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Children and Extracurricular Activities

Parents sometimes ask me about the wisdom of having a child continue taking lessons if there is a lot of resistance. This is a hard one to call. Whether it is piano, swimming or hock-ey, there may be a time right at the beginning when the child does not want to go. This may also happen a few years later when things are becoming more challenging.

The way the resistance is handled is crucial to the final outcome. If a child is forced to do something that is extremely uncomfortable for them, they will come to hate the activity. Everything should be negotiable, except, in my opinion, swimming. The ability to swim could be a life or death matter at some point in the child’s life. Sports, music or dance will not be.

Still, we like to see our children develop their skills in some extracurricular areas. It is im-portant to recognize that when a child wants to quit an activity, it may not be because of the activity itself. Perhaps there is not a good fit with the teacher, coach or teammates. It may also be because the child feels his or her performance is poor.

The first step should be to find out specifically what the child does not like, and what it would take for the activity to be more pleasant. Sometimes it might mean finding a new teacher or a new team to play on. In swimming, it might mean staying back one level, even though the child has completed it, in order to develop more confidence in the water. Some-times a few private lessons, one-on-one makes a big difference.

If a child is telling you he or she is not happy, it is important to listen, take the comments seriously, and be sympathetic. See if together you can come up with a solution. Sometimes, just knowing that you understand makes it easier for them to continue. It is also important for them to know that you will not force them to continue if it is truly upsetting.

My first two children took piano lessons, and once they got a little older, started saying they wanted to quit. It was a struggle to get them to practice. I resisted and continued to urge them to do one more year, and then one more year. Ultimately, they quit, and neither has had the desire to return to it.

My youngest also took piano. When she started talking about quitting, I really listened to her. I told her that I wanted her to finish the year, and if she still felt the same way in June, she could quit then. This happened a couple of years in a row. Knowing, in June, that the choice was completely hers as to whether or not to register for the next year, she made the choice to try one more year. She played for twelve years and picked up two new instruments as well. Extracurricular activities should be a source of enjoyment for the child, and not simply a source of pride for the parents. Remember, childhood should be fun.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and award-winning psychologist. For permission to reprint this article, or to obtain books, CDs or MP3s, visit www.gwen.ca. Follow Gwen on Facebook for inspiration.


Annie’s Journal by Annie Warner Donnelly

International Correspondent for the North Simcoe Springwater

I’d been warned that flying December 24 from Toronto Pearson and then December 25 from Amsterdam to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, would subject me to busy airports and crowds of people. In fact, Toronto Pearson staff gave me special care as did the staff at Amsterdam, and I heartily recommend flying KLM’s 787 for the comfort of the plane, the efficiency, expertise, and courtesy of the crew, and the delicious food they serve!

Around me as I travelled, I heard languages of the world. I saw faces different from mine, but I felt our hearts beating together as we flew over Eastern Canada; the Atlantic; parts of Europe; the Mediterranean Sea; Northern Africa, East Africa and then into Tanzania. I was grateful to interact with people from all over the world!

Life in Dar es Salaam is a robust life; I cannot be a bystander. Life here calls me to actively listen, to carefully observe, and to intentionally participate.

My mind automatically compares life here to my life in Canada. Soon after my arrival, the almost dry, hand-washed clothes of three people were suddenly subjected to a strong wind that propelled raindrops into the weave of the various types of fabric on the blue rope clothesline.  As the sun rose that morning, the sky had been blue too, but as the hours came and went, the gray clouds filled with wind and rain floated into view. Suddenly, so it seemed, the clouds dropped their rain, and the wind scattered the clothing without clothespins. As quickly as it all started, it stopped leaving some hand washing to be done again.

The greetings that I learned in my Kiswahili language class come alive in the voices and smiles of the people; the warmth of their welcome is unmistakable. The colours of their clothing mix with the vibrancy of their personalities.

Dar es Salaam, including its surrounding districts, has a night population of 5,383,728 in a land mass of 1,393 square kilometres (Dar es Salaam City Council website). Its census data is based on who sleeps in each house. This distinguishes between those who  live in the city and those who return to their homes in the Pwani (Coastal) Region after working in the city. (Administrative Units Population Distribution Reports, Volume 1A, The Sixth Census Result 2022.

As a comparison, the Toronto Region has a population of 6,471,850 within 5,903 square kilometres (toronto.ca website)

Traffic here is like a symphony with an unseen conductor, yet it’s unlikely it could be choreographed by the most excellent composer. Two lanes in the same direction become three as motorcycles, tri-cycle rickshaws, cars, busses, people, and the occasional bicycle or animal weave a tapestry of movement, often with inches to spare, accompanied by the sudden sharp insistence of horns. The message of the horns is, “I am coming through.”

I continue to be grateful for your prayers and good wishes. During this new year, may God grant you the desires of your hearts, whether they be dreams that take you far or into your own backyard. Amen.


Rosie’s Devotions by Rosemary Hagedorn

New Year Resolutions

A new year is about to begin, and it seems that each new year, we make resolutions to be a better person. Some of us declare that we would be healthier by joining our local YMCA or other organization in order to keep fit. Some of us state that we are going to lose a few pounds by going on a diet and watching our intake of sweets. Still others vow that they will be more positive and less negative. In other words, we try to be much better than last year.

Matthew 25:31-40 – When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?” The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (NIV 2011)

Mother Teresa is quoted as saying: “God is in every human being. When I wash the leper’s wounds, I feel I am nursing the Lord himself. Is it not a beautiful experience?”

As we begin 2024, let us consider how we can serve Jesus best by seeing Christ in one another. Let us be kind to one another. Let us treat the stranger in the car behind us by paying for his coffee or tea. Let’s tip that person who puts gas in the car. We can bring a treat to our regular professional people: the nurses in the hospital, the PSWs who work in our local Long Term and Retirement homes, the mail person, the garbage and recycling men or women, the receptionist at the doctor’s office or dentist’s office. Let us share our time and resources with one another. May we remember that we can’t take it with us!

“At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by ‘I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in.’ Hungry not only for bread — but hungry for love. Naked not only for clothing — but naked of human dignity and respect. Homeless not only for want of a home of bricks — but homeless because of rejection.” (Mother Teresa)

Prayer: God, help us to see those who need our help and support. Help us to share our food with those who are hungry. Help us to share our precious fresh water with those who are thirsty. Help us to be Your hands and feet in this world and see the face of Christ in everyone we meet. Amen


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