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happylittlegems wellbeing fact of the day:

Lots of young children find clubs scary and overwhelming.

Have you ever paid money and looked forward to your child taking part in a club, only for them to refuse to participate or cry at the side. It can be so disappointing and can make you question what is wrong with your child. Please understand there is nothing wrong with your child, but how you deal with the situation is very important. Many preschoolers and young children are wary of large groups or trying new things. Scientific evidence shows that this hesitant nature is something that they are born with rather than a learned behaviour, so don't blame yourself. It is hard not to get angry and upset with them when you know if they just had a go they'd really enjoy it, but it's important that you deal with this hesitant behaviour in the right way. Remember that they are children and don't look at things the same way you do and don't have the understanding you do. However hard it may be, try to be understanding and persevere where possible, they will join in eventually!


happylittlegems top tips for encouraging your hesitant child:

  • Let them sit and watch. It may take weeks of watching before they will join in, and then they may only do part of it, but let them see what goes on, allow them to realise that it's a safe place and that the instructor or coach isn't too scary after all. This may seem like a waste of time and money but it will help them in the long run.

  • If there's bits of the class or club they don't like doing let them sit it out. Sometimes, children don't join in straightaway but will join in once they've assessed the situation and are happy. Again, eventually they will join in with it all, it just takes time.

  • Join in with them. Most coaches or instructors (especially in preschool classes) don't mind parent participation, so do a bit with them and then they might realise it's not as scary as they thought and continue the class by themselves.

  • Be encouraging. Give them thumbs up from the side when they do join in and tell them how proud you are of them after, even if they only did part of the class.

  • Take a friend. Sometimes it can help if they know someone else there as it makes them feel safer, so see if one of their friends is up for having a go too.

  • Don't use bribes or give consequences for not participating as these often have the opposite affect. However, reward any participation with positivity and encouragement.

  • Don't get angry or upset with them. However cross you may be try not to show this to your child as this could make the situation worse. Try to be understanding and chilled out about it. Have a conversation with them when you are calm as there may be a reason they don't want to join in and you may be able to reason with them about this.

  • Failing all this just give up. I don't often say 'give up', but sometimes children just aren't ready for structured classes or groups and this doesn't mean there's something wrong with them. It means they are either not developmentally ready for structured classes or to follow instructions, or they are very sensitive and therefore more hesitant about things. It doesn't mean there's something wrong with them. Every child develops differently.

If you would like more parenting advice or personalised parent coaching please visit www.happylittlegems.com

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