As usual, Maya wrote this brilliant post on the thin line between encouraging your child and pushing him/her to do something that there are resisting. The post came as a saviour as I was unsure of the post for the day and was planning to do a cheat post.
I had written about getting Mantam admitted to this dance class a couple of years ago. After the initial frenzy dies down, I noticed that Mantam were not enjoying themselves much. I gave them some time and observed that their disinterest persisted. I had a casual conversation with them to understand why they were not happy going to the dance class. Mannu plainly said “I don’t enjoy Mamma”. Tammu said “Mamma, please tell Sir not to teach me. I would like to do my own steps.” So I withdrew them from the class and saw them happy to dance at home on their own. They dance to their heart’s content by watching dance steps on TV and learning by imitating. If that makes them happy, be it. As far as Abbas and I are concerned, we are happy that we encouraged them to give the dance class a shot and did not push them when they didn’t like it.
When we moved to the new apartment, we came to know about the swimming classes that were going to be held. We asked Mantam and they were eager to join. About 15 kids from the apartment had joined. Mantam took to swimming literally like fish to water. In spite of them being the youngest and tiniest in the lot, they would absorb the instructions and instantly implement them. Abbas and I would watch them everyday and silently feel proud of them. But we would see other parents who would also stand next to us but keep on shouting instructions at their kids, force their kids who were reluctant to get into the pool, keep coaxing them to keep practising even after the instructor would have left. There was one kid who would cry so badly and deny to get into the pool, but the Mom would blackmail him, coerce him by giving false hopes and try all tricks possible. She would tell him that he could swim for only 5 minutes and come back, and when he would abide by her words and come back victoriously after 5 minutes, she would push him back saying another 5 minutes. He would go back with his eyes welling up and heart battling. My heart went out for him!!
To put it in a nutshell, encouragement goes a long way in showing the child a path. Whether to be on it or not should be the child’s decision. Pushing a kid to do something where his/her heart does not lay would do no good.
PS: Maya – Sorry, I borrowed the title from your post. Couldn’t think of a better one da.