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How hard do you push a 7 year old?

Paul Banas
Author Paul Banas
Submitted 25-05-2011

My son, 7, just convinced his mother to let him get out of Aikido for third time in as many weeks. He said his throat hurt and his eyes sting, which is the same excuse he’s used to get out of basketball. It’s painful to have a conversation with a 7 year old who so desperately wants to get out of his after school activity and hopes we will cancel and never make him go again. At the same time, I empathize with him, I keep searching my soul to understand if I should be teaching him some sort of life lesson about commitment and sticking with things even when you don’t want to go. At the same time, he is only 7.

For the second half of the basketball season, I ended up driving to practice each week just to sit on the sidelines with him while we watched the team play. His eyes hurt and his throat was scratchy he said, yet I made him go week after week to tell the coach and support the team. I certainly couldn’t force him to run around, but I wanted him to know that I thought it was important enough that I’d drive all the way to practice and waste an hour of my time to teach a lesson. I don’t know if he learned anything, except that he doesn’t want to do basketball again.

It’s so hard being a dad, and knowing when to push and when to just say, “let it go.” The immortal words of the late June Cleaver always echo in my ears, “Ward, do you think you might be being a little hard on the Beaver?” Ward was often too hard on the Beaver, and maybe not hard enough on Wally, who was old enough to know better.

Maybe, it’s not yet the time to push so hard. He isn’t a soccer star either but has never complained of stinging eyes before practice. Maybe he’s still at the age where we and he are questing for the things that will turn him on enough to want to get suited up to play. I keep driving and buying new uniforms in this search, hoping we’ll hit on something soon that makes him happy and excited and that he might want to really work at, and even regret if we didn’t let him go to practice.

What are your experiences? How much do you push your kids?