In the play A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry, Beneatha, sister of the main character Walter Lee Younger, Jr., mentions taking guitar lessons and sets off her mom about "flitting" around trying too many activities. Beneatha claims her right to express herself, but her mom just wants to know why she has to change from one thing to the next. She had just tried horseback riding, photography and acting. While many of us would agree that Beneatha was a college student trying to find herself, others, like her mom, see her "flitting" as a waste of time and money.
How will children find their talents and know what they enjoy if they don't try different activities? It is healthy and educational for children to be exposed to various activities. However, there are the dangers of having children overly involved. Over involvement stresses not only the children but the parents as well. Negative outcomes of this type of stress can possibly lead to frustration, irritability, insomnia, financial distress and poor academic performance.
Here are a few suggestions for parents before uniforms are purchased, fees are paid, and children believe they are failures. Parents can lead children in researching the activities ahead of time, observing practices and competitions, if applicable, and interviewing other children and families who participate. While these vicarious experiences aren't 100% foolproof, they might eliminate wasted time and resources. If the child hears something that he or she does not like and cannot commit to, then the negative emotions are saved in the long run.
Everyone will experience flitting, whether it's relationships, homes, jobs, automobiles or ice cream flavors. Flitting can be reduced, though, when research is practiced and patience is exercised.
Today, there are those who believe that because children are allowed to flit, this negatively impacts their abilities to choose and commit to careers. As adults, parents and educators, we can mitigate this concern by spending more time focusing on helping children find careers that they are truly passionate about. This begins by identifying their interests. What do they really enjoy doing? Then, identify careers that match those interests. Even though millennials may choose and change careers up to five times, we can still minimize that number by helping them to research and ensure they know what the requirements and expectations are. Shadowing experiences must start as early as elementary school. Many companies have already begun virtual job shadowing experiences for children so they don't have to leave home or their schools in order to explore certain jobs.
Let's talk to children early, helping them see the pros and the cons of each position they are considering. It is not too early to start those conversations, but please extend the conversations beyond the question, "What do you want to be when you grown up?"