The thin line between pressurizing and motivating

Thanks Blogadda, for the spicy pick!

is what I tread very carefully..

And forever worry that I might be becoming too lax in the process. Especially after Amy Chua happened.

In September, when daughter had just started school, I had enrolled her in a few activities. Ballet class – because she wanted to, Bharatnatyam class – because I always wanted to, when I was little. I know I am living life through her. In my defense, I just wanted to see if she were interested. And Kumon. There were trial classes and I felt it made sense to check it out.

Ballet she loved, so we are still at it. Bharatanatyam – she refused to go after the first class, and I did not want to force her. She was after all just a four year old. So I left it at that. Kumon, she loved initially, but by the end of the second week, I think it got a bit too much for her, and she did not want to do it. And I left it at that.

To be honest, I was never sure if I did the right thing, in letting her get her way. After reading Amy Chua’s article, I couldn’t help wonder, should I have pushed harder? I still am not sure if I did the right thing. When initially she showed no interest in reading by herself, I kept wondering, if I was indeed letting her off too easily. When she started reading, I breathed easy. Yes, she started doing it at her pace, when she was ready for it.

Last week, I tried Bharatanatyam again. Why? Well, because she was really good(I was surprised at how graceful she was) at it when we went the first time – even though it was the first day. I suspect that the reason she balked was because she had just started full time school, and was exhausted. I have seen her energy increase as she settled into her routine. Now after 6 months of being in a routine, we tried again. This time, she had a class mate for company. And she loved it! She can’t stop talking about it. She showed me her moves, she danced for us when we got home – it was wonderful! I do hope her enthusiasm does not ebb down. I guess, I need to push and encourage her enough for her to continue. Will I stop again, if she asks.. I have no idea. I guess the way we react is based on a lot of factors. As parents, if we feel that the demand is unreasonable, we wouldn’t give in. Does it make us tough parents, not in my books. Then again, I might be a lazy or lax parent in some other parent’s book, for giving in the first time, and not pushing her to try harder. At that point, I was worried about putting her off it completely, if I pushed her too much. It is such a tough thing, getting that balance right.

I had plans to try Kumon again after 6 months, but I have shelved it for now. Why you ask? Well, at the moment, I don’t feel the need for it. Now, she is comfortable practising her handwriting at home. She loves maths. Her favourite game these days is for us to ask her maths questions. And before you call me a competitive parent or obsessed with studies parent – she initiated it. That is what she wants to do all day long, if she can get away with it. She does not consider it studying or ‘work’ – it is a game for her. So as far as she enjoys it, and gets to learn at the same time, why would I want her to go to a ‘class’, and feel that she ‘has to’ do something, when she does it all the time, on her own? If she gets her hands on a piece of paper, she makes up additions and writes down the answers – all by herself. And the thing is, I can’t claim any credit for parenting – this is her. She has picked up stuff from school, learnt a way of making it fun, and loves doing it over and over again. And as parent, what more can I ask for?

Can I push her more? I do – I push her limits slowly. I increase the number of stories that she reads, slowly. And as she progresses through the different levels, her reading books get slightly tougher. When she expresses an interest in the book, that I am reading, I encourage her to find words that she knows in it, and she loves it. I might not be pushing her as much as some others, because I want her to truly enjoy it rather than get pressured into doing it. She is enjoying the pace at which she is learning. It does not matter to me whether or not she becomes a professional dancer or the best student in class. What does matter is that she enjoys what she learns, that she gets stimulated as much as possible, and that she remains the confident, sunny child that she is. And makes the most of her life. While grades do matter, I have seen people with normal grades doing spectacularly well.

I will never know how things might have been different if I stuck to my guns and made her stay at all the activities, Who knows she might be reading much better now, or might have been dancing at higher levels.. Sure. Or maybe, she might have been hating it all. I guess I will never know. The one thing I know is that she is happy and content at the moment. At the moment, I do not regret what I did. And if tomorrow she wishes I had pushed her more, I guess I will have to accept it, knowing that I did the best I could, in the circumstances.

Every child is different, as is every parent.