How To Help Your Reluctant Child Choose An Activity

Allison, My Favorite Teacher 

“Dear Allison,  

Thank you for all of the work you do with children! In our home, the rule is at least one team/club for each child. My son is a member of two teams and three clubs. My daughter finds a reason to say No” to each activity and just wants to sit home. I dont want her sitting around each day after school. Help, I am out of options and patience! I know how many parents youve helped, and hoping you can help me.

Emilys Mom, Boca Raton 

Dear Emilys Mom,  

Thank you for your question.  A lot of parents come to me with the same struggle. Many parents report their child is resistant to try new things. Children often dont want to get up early or stay after school late. Others may be opting out before even considering it because they think to themselves, Why should I try something new when I cant do it anyway. Some rejection is based on anxiety, some rejecting it out of hand is based on perfectionism or self doubt-These emotions can get in the way of what you want for your child.  

If you think your child is suffering from anxiety and/or self-doubt please speak to a trusted medical or behavioral professional who can help.  This is a prevalent issue I will focus on in a future issue.  

Some parents  I work with have opted to force participation knowing their child will engage happily and enjoy him or herself once they begin, you know your child better than anyone. For everyone else, heres another option. 

Do you remember when they were younger and wouldnt eat any vegetables, so you gave them three options? They may not have wanted any, but you gave them the power of choice.  This is that same concept. Limit. So go ahead and remove activities you dont approve of, or dont fit the budget.  

Providing choices allows your child to make decisions, and gives them some control and ownership in their lives – this action engenders buy-in and follow-through.  


  • 20 – 45 minutes with your child 
  • Budget-friendly revised actives list
  • Scissors
  • Table and chairs in a quiet space  


  • We talked about joining clubs or teams, and I know that feels tough right now
  • Were going to try something new today because sitting around all the time isnt an option, sweetheart.”  
  • Today, were going to help you decide what youll enjoy.
  • I have this list,I have these scissors 


  • Cut out all of the names of the activities  
  • Read the list together to make sure your child knows what each says, and discuss the features of each to make sure she understands her options.  
  • Watch your tone and body language to remain impartial 
  • Ask your child to think about the activities  


 “We are going to list these in three categories 

Dont forget to have fun with this, Mom, or Dad. You know your child, play with the three-column names. 


  • (Column one) Here, youll list teams/clubs you will give a try 
  • (Column two) Here youll list activities youll MAYBE consider. 
  • (Column three) This last column, list Team/clubs there is no way, uh uh, not doing it!”  
  • Hold up the first activity, ask your child where she would like to list it.
  • Follow this until all team/clubs have been sorted into one of these columns.
  • Discuss the list in Column one, helping your daughter to choose a great fit.
  • Once narrowed down, you will most likely find your child is more invested in this/these activities because she has had her say, thus minimizing conflict.


  • Sorting these activities into columns will allow her to create true self-awareness, with feelings of control over the outcome. Please let her know her choice is not written in stone.

Encourage your daughter leading up to the start, reminding her she made this choice, and it looks like a great one. 

Good luck, Emilys Mom, this is just one, of many strategies, to help Emily forward and hoping it helps. Hoping the new activities are ones she loves!  

You got this, Mommy/Daddy!  

Kids Rock,  


Allison C. Dankner, MS.Ed, Psy.B.S.  The Behavior Coach who will make your home a little less crazy!

??Success for Your Child??
     ??Success for Parents??
?Helping Kids and the Parents who Love Them
?At home or Online
?Raising Self Esteem One Academic Skill at a Time
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Allison C. Dankner, MS.Ed, Psy.B.S.

Allison C. Dankner, MS.Ed, Psy.B.S. The Behavior Coach who will make your home a little less crazy! ??Success for Your Child?? ??Success for Parents?? ?Helping Kids and the Parents who Love Them ?At home or Online ?Raising Self Esteem One Academic Skill at a Time Wellington 631.204.7254 New York 646.484.9289 *Privacy Assured

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