New Year, New Ways To Have Fun

Help your child to grow even further and better by encouraging him to venture out of his comfort zone, says DR RICHARD C. WOOLFSON.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Your six-year-old is plodding along quite nicely, but you know he can achieve so much more. One way to boost his confidence is to have him take on new challenges.

Here’s how to get started this new year:

Talk about his schedule

Ask him to recall the last time he tried a new activity and suggest he doesn’t always have to reach for his tablet after finishing his homework. Explain it’s an opportunity to consider something else.

Dump the “same-old”

Identify activities he’s been doing but without progress or enthusiasm, and drop them.

Suggest new activities

Junior may resist new activities because they are beyond his comfort zone – they might too challenging or he might fail.

Suggest two or three activities anyway, and persist until he agrees to try at least one.

Expect his commitment

Make it clear that you expect him to stick with the new timetable for at least six weeks – he is not to give up before then.

Say you’ll help him as much as possible to participate to the best of his ability.

Teach risk assessment

Talk to him about potential risks involved and discuss ways to manage these risks.

If he is afraid of injury, say, when learning to roller skate, explain that he can protect himself with elbow pads, knee pads and a helmet.

Get him more involved at home

Delegate more household chores to him. Make him decide what clothes he wears, and have him participate in decisions about family outings.

Have shared activities

He learns to be more adventurous when you are with him.

If you want him to swim an extra length of the pool instead of stopping whenever he feels tired, do it alongside him.

Arrange different play dates

He likes inviting the same pal to his house every week because they know each other, and enjoy the same games.

But schedule new play dates with children he is not so familiar with, too – it encourages him to be socially adventurous.

Spontaneously switch up his routine

Instead of having swimming on a Monday, drama on a Wednesday, shopping on a Saturday, and so on, occasionally change his routine without planning.

He can read a book tonight, instead of playing on his tablet. Breaking away from a routine fosters adaptability.

Review his progress

Once he has ventured outside his comfort zone, chat with him about his progress. Allow him to moan and complain, but ensure he mentions the positive aspects, as well.

Tell him how pleased you are that he has tried new things, and that you are delighted with his progress. 

If you want him to swim an extra length of the pool, do it alongside him.