Do You Believe In “Participation Awards” For Your Child?
I got a lot of great insight from you guys in regards to my ballet class disaster (and a comment from Nancy who called the blog “absurd.” Ouch. I disagree, but she also made some good points so I won’t totally rant on her).
I’m happy to report that we went to the new class and it was oh-so-much better. Fia still didn’t want to let go of my hand, so in my ratty converse and yoga pants, I got to plie and spin with a bunch of little girls while their parents looked on–bored. We even brought Olivia the pig, since I told her it was an “Olivia approved class.” Yes, maybe I am taking this all a bit too far.
At the disaster class I wrote about how she stuck out like a sore thumb in her purple tutu. I said this time I was going to get her an outfit that was more in line with the others. She is wearing it above. It is adorable, and yes, more typical of a ballet outfit.
Nancy’s comment said: “Jill, you admitted to projecting your feelings on to your daughter. She feels bad because her outfit is a different color? She feels bad about herself when you leave? I do not think she felt any of that; she is too young for that much self-examination. And as soon as you get home you order her the perfect dance outfit? I have gone on enough. I guess you get my points.”
But then Julie made me feel a little better when she said: “There is nothing wrong with getting her daughter a new pretty outfit with a splash of originality. The reality is that from a VERY early age children who express originality are separated from the group and they CAN most certainly understand this is happening.”
I think I agree with you both. Part of it is my projecting. But I don’t think it hurts for a semi-shy kid to initially fit in a little more while she finds her groove. Of course I had to laugh when we got to this new class. Half the girls were in pale pink. The other half? In aqua blue and bright orange tutu’s. Maybe I just need to stick to my hip hood for classes since the disaster class was in a less hip area of the city.
About half way through Fia wanted to leave, but I told her we had to stay until the end. She continued to whine, but I just stayed the course.
“Fia, we don’t quit. We will leave when it’s over,” as I glanced at the clock, appalled to realize we still had 27 more minutes.
When it did finally end though, I praised her for staying through the whole class. For the next two days she talked about how much she loved it and how, “Mama, we stayed until the very end too!” I think I’ve decided if the class is good and the teacher doesn’t suck then we at least need to see it through to the end.
The great thing about this class is you don’t have to make a commitment. You can just drop in. So we’ll try it a few more times and if she isn’t into it, or too young, then we’ll stop.
But before I sign off, I want to pose another question that Julie brought up. She said:
“…While 3 is a bit young to worry about being a quitter for life, I do think it is absolutely right to question the decision to make sure you aren’t simply removing all challenges from your child’s life. Because even at 3 a child can learn that complaining means they don’t have to do something. (I also don’t believe kids should get participation “awards” but that is a totally different subject).”
But on that subject, I’m curious: After each swim lesson, Fia goes in the office and picks out a treat. After gymnastics she gets stamps from the coach if she participated and listened well. This week we hit the bookstore first and I got her a coloring book. I told her she couldn’t draw until after she participated in swimming and gymnastics (they are back-to-back on Monday).
In gymnastics she initially didn’t want to jump. I had the coach tell her she had to if she wanted to use her new coloring book. She suddenly became the most active participant there. And in such good spirits to boot! She was waving at me from afar, giddy and laughing with the other kids, etc. So is what I’m doing considered a “participation award?” And if so, is that a bad thing? I certainly don’t want a kid who only does things with an expectation at the end.
So continuing this debate on how far to push your child: What is too much? Are things like stamps, stickers, treats and coloring books considered a reward? Bribery? At 3, how much does that matter?
I await your comments. Even Nancy’s. Just don’t call my questions–or this blog–absurd.
Fia and Olivia: Proud, post-class!