Three years ago, I started trying to help my children develop some skills that they didn’t have the maturity to know they needed. I tried to explain the long-term benefit, so they would own the goals, but it wasn’t very successful. I think this was the first time I documented some sort of attempt at helping my children with goals. Here are my somewhat discouraged comments:
As our children get older (11, 10, and 8), I keep running into this problem where their lack of skill in an area is hindering their enjoyment of a thing. I’m also running into this related problem where they don’t have the discipline to develop needed skills.
Music is one thing. All our children have the ability to learn music. Learning how to read and how to play music is not fun, although all our children would enjoy being able to do it better.
Likewise, I’ve got a couple of children who have trouble reading information books that would give them a great deal of enjoyment. Asking them to read often results in grouchy looks and sighs.
Since my children have finished out the school year, they are mopey. They say they don’t have anything to do. When I’ve assigned things that I KNOW will either be enjoyable or will help them develop skills that I KNOW they would like to have, they act as though I’m torturing them. I’ve tried getting them to choose from a list of activities (choice is motivating), but that’s not changing the situation substantially.
And then I feel guilty. Or I wish there were more kids around for my children who don’t have friends close enough to play with every day. I feel guilty that the kids aren’t finding things to do that are satisfying and productive. I try to help them find things to do, and when they aren’t interested, I get angry. To make it worse, my children seem to be perfecting new ways of making me feel guilty. You said we were going to be doing fun things this summer. (We went birding and swimming at the pool yesterday. Nothing exciting today.) I don’t think they’re really aware of how they are highlighting my inconsistencies and imprecision in speech.
They don’t have the discipline to do the boring stuff. I’ve been hoping to motivate them sweetly, but they don’t have the maturity to see the long term benefit of boring study. Even though I see the need for imposing boring discipline, a large part of me just isn’t ready to keep the academic battle going through the summer.
So I’ve taken a break. Not for the children, but for me. I’m requiring the reading but not some of the other grand ideas I had. In few weeks, maybe I’ll be ready to do some “summer school”: with a few skills that I think could be developed a bit with the relative freedom of summer.
Tomorrow, we’ll look at the next attempt at goal making six months later.