Do you hear “I dunno” a lot?
Sure, you want to encourage your child to try new things so that they develop a passion worth pursuing. Or, you may ask your child what they like or dislike about a particular activity. Instead of a “yes” or “no” they just shrug their shoulders and tell you the typical “I dunno” response. As hard as it is to admit, I hear this a lot from my oldest who is about to become a teenager. I may ask him if he wants to try learning a musical instrument. He just looks at me and says “I’m not sure” or “I guess”. Not very encouraging, is it?
Why do kids do this?
Kids like us adults have their fears and insecurities. They may have had failures in the past and are reluctant to try something new. They may feel the new activity will require them to spend a lot of time away from their friends or other favorite activities. It could be that they’re afraid of a long-term commitment to something they may wind up not liking. Whatever the reason, don’t despair. There are things you can do to help.
What you can do
As a parent you can take the reins and enroll them in the activity as long as they don’t object. Tell them that it’s only for a trial period, not forever. The key here is for them to understand that they have to stick it out for the trial period, no quitting allowed. During the trial period, ask them how they’re liking it. Listen carefully to the answer. If their language switches from “I don’t know” to “I like it” or even “It’s not bad” then you may be on to an activity they like. If, however they are frustrated and say they hate it then give it to the end of the trial period and see if their response changes.
At the end of the trial comes the moment of truth. Do they want to continue?
If they answer “yes” or “ok” or “sure” then by all means continue. It can take a long time to develop a passion.
If they answer “no” or “I hate it” or even “Do I have to?” then you should consider an alternative activity.
If they still say “I don’t know” then you have a choice. You could continue for another trial period or you could try another activity. Sooner or later, you will succeed.
I wanted my son to have better reading skills. I encouraged him to enroll in a summer program. When asked about it, he shrugged his shoulders and said he “wasn’t sure” if he wanted to enroll. I enrolled him anyway for a 1 month trial period. He wound up really liking the teacher and while he still doesn’t like reading too much, he really enjoyed the program. The next year his reading improved markedly.
I’d love to hear how you encourage your children to find their passion for an activity. Please comment to this blog post and let me know.