Winners never quit and quitters never win – a tough lesson for anyone but especially tough for kids and parents trying to decide ‘is quitting an option‘.
Regardless of your child’s age, he or she will suggest that he wants to quit a previously enjoyable activity. The enthusiasm for ballet, flute lessons, baseball, or afterschool drama is no longer there.
As a parent, you need to look past the investment of time and money, to determine why your son or daughter no longer wants to continue; then you must decide… is quitting an option for my child.
More than 70 percent of children will quit organized sports by the age of 13. Yet, with child obesity now an epidemic and sedentary activities such as TV, computer or video games monopolizing their time, it is critical to help guide your child to make the correct decision by considering is quitting an option.
The first step is to determine why your child wants to give up the sport or activity.
Child development specialists say that children under 10 do not have a clear sense of what kinds of activities they will like and it is probably okay to allow a child to test the waters a few times.
Is quitting an option for them? Quitting denotes a feeling that “this isn’t fun for me.” Rest assured, allowing your younger child to walk away from one activity that they don’t appear to enjoy will not establish a pattern down the road.
Responsibility to others is also important. If your child is playing soccer, baseball, basketball or football and the team will suffer if he quits, explain his obligation to be a good teammate and the need to complete the season.
Hold him to the pledge to attend all practices, give his all in games and have a positive attitude. Many leagues have just one or two extra players per team and this should be considered when asking is quitting an option in this case.
Let your child know that if another player is sick, or gets hurt, the team will play shorthanded, or may have to forfeit an important game.
It is also important to determine your emotional connection to the activity and the child’s objection to continuing it.
Is your son playing baseball to fulfill your vicarious needs? Did you always dream of dancing as a child? Has the activity begun to take over too much of his or her time? Is the coach, teacher, or other children causing silent anguish? These are all important questions to ask yourself when your child is asking is quitting an option.
Let your child know the importance in participating in a variety of activities (as long as there is enough time to address homework) and that if he or she is dropping out of one sport or instructional activity, it is reasonable to substitute another in its place.
Support your child’s individuality but also support an active lifestyle when they ask is quitting an option.
Here are some pointers to help you answer the question – is quitting an option::
- Take the emotion out of the decision. Knowing why child’s asking is quitting an option. Why he wants to leave the activity will be critical down the road. Is she just nervous about performing at an upcoming ballet recital or still upset because he drop the relay throw in the last game? Will it blow over? If not, remind them that you’ve committed until this season ends. If he still wants to quit after that, accept the decision.
- Is he or she over programmed? Your child’s unwillingness to continue with the activity may be the result of a need for more down time. Most kids participate in more than one activity. Your child may simply need more time to relax; however, it this is the only physical activity he or she participant in, and he is not athletically gifted, look for a less competitive or structured alternative. Most Y’s or Community Centers have open gyms with non-competitive programs.
- Let your children participate in the decision-making about stopping one activity and trying a new one. Ask your child to find out what other children are doing. Create a list of potential activities and preview a class, or speak with the coaches. Find out what is expected of your child and communicate this to him or her.
- Establish parameters for beginning new activities. Determine a reasonable trial period for a new activity and avoid repeating patterns that will allow your child to drop each activity he or she begins.
- Fight the big fights. Outbursts concerning after-school activities tend to accelerate and the negative behavior may transfer to other activities. It is impossible to force children to participate in an activity he or she dislikes. Trying will only create anxiety that could make them even more reluctant to attempt a new activity.
Finally, be a role model for your children by suggesting activities that will promote the development of the skills begun in the dropped activity.
Take family walks, play catch, go ice skating and participate in family gym nights. Encourage your child to play the flute for fun, and gather friends and family for a “jam night.” Do silly dances, complete with costumes.
You never know if this will re-spark the desire to try again.
Jen is a regular contributing author for HowToLearn.com and provides many tips related to education like ‘Is Quitting an Option?’