Unless we get children try different things, how will they ever learn which things are fun and which are not fun?

“Unless we get children to try different things, how will they ever learn which things are fun and which are not fun? Don’t they need to learn to make themselves do things they are not sure about, to learn about things that are valuable but not immediately obviously so?”

It’s more important to learn how to make things fun, and how to avoid things that you can’t make fun. Having a rule which overrides your reason is at best going to entrench bad habits. How do you know the thing you are forcing yourself (or your child) to do is actually right? If it is right, why can’t you (or your child) feel good about it? It might be unpleasant in the sense that a cold shower would be unpleasant if your hot water heating has broken and you really want a shower, but you can do that voluntarily without forcing yourself to do anything. This other idea – of there being valuable things that no one would do without either being forced to or forcing themselves to – is false.

Getting children to do things they do not want to do, and doing things you do not want to do, systematically impairs creativity and impedes the growth of knowledge.

See also:

Sarah Fitz-Claridge, Taking Children Seriously FAQ: ‘Unless we get children try different things, how will they ever learn which things are fun and which are not fun?’, https://www.takingchildrenseriously.com/unless-we-get-children-try-different-things-how-will-they-ever-learn-which-things-are-fun-and-which-are-not-fun/

2 thoughts on “Unless we get children try different things, how will they ever learn which things are fun and which are not fun?”

  1. With our first, we tried getting him to try different things. He resisted and fought us until we got physical with him and then it was like he was broken. We have been attempting to put Humpty together again for nearly 7 years without appreciable success. We wish we could have a do-over. With our subsequent kids we were more chill, and the kids are happier. How do we fix it with our first?

    Reply
    • It is very understandable that you see him as broken, but be aware that when we view our children as broken, that adversely affects how we interact with them. They see it in our eyes. Who are they to question our judgement of them? And some of what you think you are seeing may be more about what you expect to see given how bad you are feeling about the mistakes you made with him.

      Consider the possibility that there is nothing wrong with him, other than what is happening now (inadvertently!) – because that is a much more likely possibility than that he is broken. Forget about the past. You can’t change that. Don’t let the past ruin the present and future if you can possibly help it. What you can do is connect with him and have fun with him NOW.

      How would you be interacting differently with him if he were whole and complete and perfect and there was nothing wrong with him and he was happy and your relationship with him was good? When you have answered that question very fully in your own mind, start interacting with him as if that IS the situation. When what you have been doing is not working, try something different. When you try something different, you create some knowledge, and sooner or later if you keep trying different things, something will make a difference.

      Do think about how it must feel to be a child whose parents are thinking you are broken. What must it be like to look into your parents’ eyes (when you are a child) and to see sorrow, concern, and guilt and “you are broken”? (I speak from experience, seeing that on my mother’s face when my teacher informed her that I was being moved to the dunces’ class for Slow Learners because I could not read despite four years of school.)

      Reply

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