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How to make kids fearlessly independent

Growing up, I was always involved in extracurricular activities. I took piano lessons my whole childhood and wasn’t allowed to quit until I was a teen. As for a sports activity, I bounced around; I took gymnastics, I played to soccer, but nothing really stuck. Finally, when I was 10, I saw an ad for synchronized swimming and begged my mom to put me into it. I did that for five years, I loved it. It became a big part of my life and my identity. My hope for my kids is that they find their passions early on because extracurricular activities put them on a life-long path of resilience and independence. So far, my 9-year-old daughter loves dancing; my son is 8 and into basketball and my youngest son, who is 5, is figuring out what he wants to do!

Activities build skills and confidence

Why are activities important?

Children build skills and confidence — and they make friends! They also have to learn something new, with people they don’t know well, which prepares them for school or work challenges to come.

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Tips on how to find the right activities to meet your child’s needs, interests and skills.

Start when they’re young so they can explore different things.

Don’t assume you know what they’re going to be good at or like just because you’re their mom.

Let them discover what they want on their own (it’s better than fighting tooth and nail to get them to participate in something you want them to do).

How do activities develop your child?

Activities make kids strong physically and mentally, and help to maintain a positive outlook. They allow kids to be creative and expressive, building communication skills. Teamwork teaches them how to give and take, and strengthens their socialization skills.

How does it make you feel when you see your kids in action?

It’s every parent’s dream to watch your kids light up when they’re doing something they really love!

What advice do you give to your kid if they fail?

Ask them what they learned from the experience and how it made them feel. I use it as a teaching opportunity to figure out what the positives were and what they can build on. When they fail at something, it’s usually when I see the most growth.

How can you teach your child resilience?

Teach them how to be independent and overcome their fears. Give them responsibilities; create expectations so they have standards and goals. Encourage them to try different things; the best growth for kids is when they are pushed out of their comfort zone.

Guiding
Principles

They have to commit for a year.

Learning how to swim is non-negotiable. Aside from the safety aspect, it's a great confidence booster.

Skating is a right of passage in Canada so that is a must as well in our family.

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Why New Balance shoes?

I discovered New Balance two years ago. Before that, the kids went through a few pairs a year whereas one pair of New Balance sneakers lasts the whole school year. They always have two pairs – for indoors and outdoors. I size up a half size bigger so there’s room for their feet to grow. They all love the colours and designs and I love the quality and the fit. My 5-year-old son has wide and thick feet that prevent him from wearing a lot of shoes, but New Balance shoes fit him really well. They’re easy for him to put on and he likes the stretchy laces!

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CREDITS: Photography by MELISSA SUNG; Oversight editing by MELISSA MENDES; Creative direction by MONICA BIALOBRZESKI; Design and development by JEANINE BRITO

This content was produced by The Globe and Mail's Globe Content Studio.
The Globe's editorial department was not involved in its creation.

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