But once we added in the 45-minute drive each way, what was a minor inconvenience at first, in time became a torturous way to start the week.
So, after her last performance, I went online to look at the schedule to find a more mommy-friendly time for ballet.
And as I scrolled through the offerings, I casually asked Katie if she’d like to continue with ballet or go back to gymnastics.
Without pause, she replied, gymnastics.
And I was taken aback, honestly, because I’m not even sure why I asked the question.
She had seemed so happy with ballet…a dream that I’ve always had for her.
But, in that moment, I was reminded that ballet was my dream for her. Not her dream for her.
So, we have enrolled her in gymnastics and she is elated.
The benefits to giving young children the power to choose are numerous. Children, particularly preschoolers and early elementary students, become easily frustrated when they feel like they don’t have any decision-making power in they lives. When it comes to the larger issues (i.e. safety, bedtimes, healthy eating habits, etc.), they don’t have a lot of choice. Allowing them to make decisions on smaller issues that affect their everyday lives, such as what outfit to wear to school, empowers them. It shows them that we believe in them, and that they are capable of making decisions that are important to them. Children who are given the opportunity to make decisions tend to exhibit higher self-esteem, more assertive behaviors, increased self-confidence, and fewer negative attention seeking behaviors (i.e. meltdowns when things don’t go their way, tantrums, whining, etc.). These kids feel like they have some control over their lives, which empowers them to make good decisions. It also helps hone their decision-making skills, which will be used throughout their lives. Children who are never given choices feel less self-confident, have difficulty making decisions when they have to, and might question their self-worth.
Reading Katie’s words makes me feel good about our decision to let our Katie make her own choice, especially since she’s so little that most of her choices are low-stakes at this point. I know that I will blink my eyes and she will be a teenager and her choices will be so much bigger.
There’s a huge part of me that hopes she’ll switch back to ballet when this cycle is up, but if she doesn’t, I’ll be right there to encourage her to continue to follow her heart.
This parenting thing? Way trickier than I ever dreamed it would be.