I chose the following quote to share first because of its timeliness. With the start of baseball/softball season, I am hearing variations on this theme behind the closed door of my office almost daily:
Do I always have to be getting better at something? (Leah, age 9)
Kids like to do things – many things. They like to do things for fun and sometimes for no other reason. Now that spring has arrived, moms and dads everywhere are saying to their kids “Let’s work on your swing” or “Go spend some time with the pitchback” or “Your arm needs some work; let’s go have a catch.” Those comments from parents can be music to a therapist’s ears as long as the child is interested in improving his/her skills. Of course, it’s wonderful for parents and kids to spend time together, but it’s essential to remember that working on batting, pitching, catching, and throwing may or may not be fun for a girl, like 9 year old Leah, who just wants to play. Along the same lines, it can be great fun for a boy to share with his parents the violin piece he’s working on until Mom or Dad turns it into a critique session. Keep in mind that some children are hungry for constructive feedback and help with skill-building. If you have have one of those kids, go for it. Be mindful of your child’s reactions, though, because even the eager student of a sport or an instrument sometimes needs to engage in the activity for the sake of pure enjoyment. If you have a kid who loves to play with you but loses enthusiasm when your time together becomes all about getting better, embrace your inner playmate and give your inner coach/maestro a rest.
[NOTE: Names and all potentially identifying information except age have been changed.]