Keep Your Cool
Do whatever you can to make this a relaxed, fun, and special time. That means accepting beforehand that some of your stuff is going to get wrecked — and understanding that you probably aren't going to get to perform at the level you are used to. When Beverly Wilkerson's daughter, Meredith, 5, of Los Angeles started asking to go jogging with her mother, Wilkerson gave her the green light. "Of course, she jogs a little bit and then gets tired," notes Wilkerson. "And I do feel torn between wanting to run and yet wanting this time together. Usually, I just turn it into a nature walk — we both love looking at the leaves around us, listening to them rustling — and I find some other time to run."
If you get frustrated — and you probably will — because your child is progressing so slowly, remind yourself why you want to do this: The point is not that you are going to produce a kid who is going to excel; it's to have this special time together. "If you are obsessive and rigid, if you get angry when the slightest thing goes wrong, your child will get the message that this is not an enjoyable activity," says Robert Billingham, Ph.D., professor of human development and family studies at Indiana University.