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When Life's No Fun
By Yasmin Shiraz

How is it that some of our brightest, most intelligent, friendliest kids get down on life? Why is it that some kids who used to love their tae kwon do and gymnastics classes don't seem to think that anything is fun anymore? And more importantly, what can we as parents and caregivers do about it?

Children, as young as 7 and as old as 17, can be supersensitive to issues that adults may view as minor. They may have heard someone say something about their size, or may have been criticized about their skill level or been compared to someone else that they know. These comments that come in the course of daily conversation or during activities seem to harpoon the self-worth of our young people. The sensitivity of our youth often leads them to doubt their abilities, feel reluctant about trying new things, and often makes them dislike the activities in which they are currently involved. Instead of them hearing comments, comparisons or criticisms and thinking, "Oh, I'll do better," they hear these things and say, "I'm not that good, so I won't try it at all."

As parents, caregivers and coaches we have to:

  1. Continue to encourage children to do the best that they can. Even when you think that they don't want to hear it, they do.

  2. Allow your child to compare himself only to himself. It doesn't matter what other kids can do, your best competition is always yourself. A child who is 4 feet tall but can play basketball really well, should be proud of his accomplishments and not feel obligated to be the size of his 6 foot classmate.

  3. We also must be realistic in talking to our kids and let them know that sometimes they won't have the highest score, but that doesn't mean that they didn't put forth their best effort. Putting forth their best effort over a period of time is eventually going to yield the highest score.

  4. Talk to the leader of your child's activity (ie. Piano teacher, baseball coach) and ask him/her about what they feel is going on with your child. And, if they feel up to it ask them to talk to your child about his/her interests.

  5. Be willing to be participate with your child and their activity. For example, if your child is thinking about giving up piano classes, suggest you all taking a class together or being able to practice together. Then, piano class becomes a group effort and that's harder to quit.

  6. Be sensitive to your child's feelings and if he/she has his heart set in resigning an activity, discuss it but suggest putting one in its place. Remind your child that participating in activities is always a great place to meet friends.

  7. Have that "Life" talk with your child. Life is a journey of ups and downs, but while you're young you should try to have as much fun as possible. Young people should spend time trying new things and meeting new people. It's the best time of their lives to do it. Also, just because a child has a rough day at practice doesn't mean her world is coming to an end. The sun will rise again tomorrow.

We all should be having more fun. Let's all resolve to make today a little bit more fun than yesterday.

About the author: Yasmin Shiraz is an empowerment speaker, entertainment journalist, entrepreneur, and author. A graduate of Hampton University and Morehead State University, she uses her sociology training to empower young people through her writings and workshops. For many years she owned the leading urban entertainment magazine on college campuses, Mad Rhythms, which reached over four million students. She currently runs her own marketing and management firm, The Signals Agency, which specializes in entertainment marketing and youth event programming. Yasmin resides in the suburbs of Washington, DC. Yasmin is also the author of The Blueprint for My Girls: How To Build a Life Full of Courage, Determination & Self-Love. You can visit her website at www.yasminshiraz.net. Read our guest interview with Yasmin Shiraz!

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