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Quit or carry on: When should you let your child give up?

How do you engage your child in music or sports so he won't give up?

By GreatSchools Staff

Your 10-year-old daughter decides she doesn't want to take ballet anymore after you've invested in years of lessons and the spring recital is right around the corner. Your 12-year-old son wants to quit the cello but begs to take up the guitar. And you're wondering when is it right to push your child to press on or agree to let him quit?

While there's no one answer that's right for every child, there are several factors to consider regardless of your child's activity. Our experts — a music education professor, a physical education specialist, a swim school director and a ballet school director — all agree: When your child begins an activity, create a supportive environment at home. This may help to keep his interest from lagging.

When it comes down to quitting or pressing on, the decision will depend on the child, her level of talent, the length of time she's been involved in the activity and her reasons for wanting to quit.

Music lessons and your child

Create the proper environment at home for your music student.

"Musical children are not born — they are raised," says Robert Cutietta, author of Raising Musical Kids and professor of music education at the University of Southern California. It all begins by creating a "musical environment" at home. He suggests exposing children from an early age to different kinds of music, and getting them to focus by asking age-appropriate questions, such as "What does that sound like to you? Does it sound like a bird, a tree swaying in the wind?" If you play a musical instrument yourself, let your child see you playing and express your love for music. "Kids see what parents value," says Cutietta. "If music is a part of your life and you value it, they will see that."

Prepare in advance for the end of the honeymoon period.

For most children who start playing an instrument, there's a honeymoon period when they are excited and anxious to play at every opportunity. "Parents are often tricked into thinking their child loves the instrument," notes Cutietta, "but actually it's just a new toy to them. From the beginning, parents need to prepare for the time when their child is no longer in love with the instrument. They should not take the child's interest for granted. They should set realistic goals, which should not be time-goals like 'practice for a half-hour each day' but rather music goals like 'play four measures of this piece.'" If you wait to put goals in place as your child starts to lose interest, it may be too late.

To avoid nagging, set a regular practice time.

Cutietta also suggests having a set time for practice each day to avoid arguing with your child who might say, "I don't feel like it now; I'll do it later." If your child knows that at 4 p.m. everyday he is supposed to practice, there will be less need to nag. "It's also OK to acknowledge that practice is not always a lot of fun," says Cutietta. "Music is not all fun. It's hard work and there's nothing wrong with that."

Don't rely on the spring concert as an incentive.

Cutietta doesn't advise reminding your child about the spring concert as a way to keep him engaged. "That could be light-years away, as far as your child is concerned," he says. "It's much better to have more immediate, easy-to-achieve performance goals." He suggests organizing a mini-recital where your child can perform in front of a few family members and friends. This can be easy to arrange and becomes both a goal and a reward.

It's OK to switch instruments.

"Letting a child switch instruments is really smart so long as they don't switch every few months," advises Cutietta. "It's good for a child to start on piano or violin but it's OK to explore different ones and some schools allow for that, too." Chase Nelson, now a 24-year-old in California and an accomplished violinist, adds this about his own music training, "My parents didn't compromise regarding my quitting but I always had the option of switching instruments. I moved from guitar to drums (the cool instruments) before returning to violin, an instrument with which I had accomplished quite a bit. I couldn't be more thankful that my parents kept me in music. A video of myself playing violin was what eventually got me accepted at my college of choice."

Sports and your child

"There are no right or wrong answers about giving up a sport," says Amy Kaiser, GreatSchools teacher consultant and 2005 Elementary Physical Education Teacher of the Year in Minnesota. But she offers a few pointers to make the decision easier:

  • Talk with your child before signing them up for a sport or activity. Do they want to participate? What are their goals for the season? Do they understand the time commitment and cost?
  • Try to see the season through. Some early practices are tough, or new coaches or situations are uncomfortable because they are different. Help your child to work through problems and try to keep the commitment for the season. Teammates, coaches and schedules are counting on a full season. After the season is over is a good time to discuss pros and cons and decide if they would like to continue the next season. Sticking out a tough season is a good character-builder and helps reinforce good work ethics.
  • If your child insists on quitting, find out all the reasons why. Maybe a discussion with the coach or with the team will solve conflicts or calm fears.
  • Know your child, keep communication open and help them make the best decision with the most information.

Communication is key.

When you start to see signs that interest in an activity is waning, communication with your child is key, according to Carmela Peter, artistic director of the Professional Ballet School and Young Artists Ballet Theatre in Belmont, Calif. "If your child is miserable and doesn't want to go back to the dance school, it could be any number of things. It could be that she would just rather be playing or it could be that someone said something that wasn't nice in the dressing room," notes Peter. "The bottom line is if they don't want to go, find out why. If it's because you don't agree with the philosophy of the school, you can always switch to a different school."

Check out the school's or coach's philosophy.

Peter also suggests finding out about the philosophy of the program before signing your child up for lessons. Although her school does train students who are interested in advancing to a professional level, they also train everyone, and treat students with respect by giving them correction and attention. They realize that not all students will become professional dancers but they think all students should be happy, learn, enjoy themselves and make progress.

Peter also suggests giving a child extra encouragement if you notice her interest waning. "Tell her 'the more you do, the better you'll get and the more fun you'll have,'" she says. "But at some point, you really can't force them but you should encourage them to finish out the year and make it through the end-of-year recital before quitting."

Give your child experience with different activities.

"If you give your child a library of experiences from an early age, you will easily know what they are good at," says Irene Kolbisen, co-owner of the La Petite Baleen Swim School in Half Moon Bay, Calif., and charter member of the U.S. Swim School Association and World Aquatic Baby Congress.

"You'll want to uncover their talents and let them blossom. Observe what they are good at and what they are struggling with. Pay attention to their learning styles: Are they auditory or kinesthetic (movement-oriented) learners? Do they get a challenge and want to immediately run away from it?" In that case, she notes, establishing a minimum period of time commitment might be a good way to encourage your child to meet the challenge. "Tell your child that you made an agreement that he was going to do this for X amount of time but after that period of time, you will reevaluate."

Kolbisen suggests being aware of your child's tendencies when she starts to complain: Does she have a valid concern or does she have a tendency to crumble when something becomes more difficult? Be sure to keep your own bias out of the picture and try not to invest too much in your belief in your child's talents. "Don't get hooked by your ego and saying things like,'when I was your age...' Think about who comes first - your child or your athlete," adds Kolbisen. "In the end, you hope the activity is a way for kids to have fun and find some joy."

Conflicting activities

Sometimes a child loses interest in an activity because there are too many conflicting demands on his time: soccer, tennis, cello, schoolwork - it can get overwhelming trying to fit it all in. Several of our experts agreed that when it comes down to eliminating one or more activities, it should be the child's choice what to eliminate, unless it involves a team sport, in which case, it's advisable to encourage your child to finish out the season and honor his commitment to his coach and teammates. "Don't decide on just one activity until age 10, or until you can determine what your child is good at," recommends Kolbisen.

At some point, you may just have to let them quit.

Quitting may be the right choice for your child's health, particularly if your child struggles to meet the challenges associated with the activity. In a 2007 report in the journal, Psychological Science, Canadian researchers Gregory Miller and Carsten Wrosch discovered that "people who can disengage from unattainable goals enjoy better well-being... and experience fewer symptoms of everyday illness than do people who have difficulty disengaging from unattainable goals." They found that teenage girls in particular who were unable to disengage from hard-to-reach goals had an increased level of an inflammatory molecule known as C-reactive protein (C.R.P.), which in adults is linked to diabetes, heart disease and early aging.

"There's a point when it becomes cruel to force a child to continue," says Cutietta. "Later on, you may wish they had continued, but it all comes down to goal-setting and family support from the beginning." Kolbisen adds, "When it's your gut feeling that your child is right about wanting to quit, then it's time to write a nice note to the coach and have good closure with grace."

Comments from GreatSchools.org readers

11/14/2011:
"I'd like to comment on the person who wrote on 11/7. What happened to you was horrible, and I'm glad you recognize it as such. You could benefit from counseling, especially since your parents didn't see the damage that it did to you. I'm angry that they didn't realize how painful it was and didn't do something to put that creep in jail! In their defense, maybe they just couldn't deal with the pain of what happened and went into denial mode. ("If I say my son is ok, maybe then he will be.") I'm a mom of four, and I am guilty of not wanting to see the pain of a situation that was out of my control. Please find someone you can talk to about this. You'll feel a whole better. It may be life-altering, even. Best wishes, hon. "
11/7/2011:
"I used to be great at swimming. I loved swimming - and each day after practice, I would look forward to the next day. It was something all of us kids did, and our best friends did it too. But then, my 5th coach or so, was creepy. He'd take pictures of us for his album when we'd stand against the wall posing, he would swim with us and tug on our swimsuits during his favorite "games", and then he started molesting me. It messed me up. After one particularly bad day (this went on for a year), there was a blowup at the pool (little kids were the only witness) between my coach and I. He was fired, and I quit. Swimming now is very hard for me. I've gained a ton of weight. I miss swimming so much, but when I go, I just end up with panic attacks and tons of nightmares for days afterwards. Lately, I've considered joining up with the Masters swim team (adults), and tried it a couple months a while ago... I'm in my mid 20s now. The coach is great... like all the great coach! es before my bad one. I don't know - I'm scared. If your kids don't want to do an activity, ask them why. It's a scary world out there, but at the same time, I had MANY great coaches who would beat up anyone who would touch me inappropriately - just ended up with a bad coach in the end. But talk with your kids. I fought to quit, and was only allowed to do it when he lost his temper at me. I didn't tell my parents about the abuse until about 3 years later - they still don't think it's a big deal. But I'm seriously messed up. It was reported to the cops by my principal, and I had an interview with them but didn't press charges because it had been too long. If my parents had asked me why I wanted to quit, I might have told them (but I might not have) - if I did tell them, we would have more leverage to get the creep charged. He's coaching again now even though after the blowup, we filed a report with the team. "
09/26/2011:
"Mom, I hope you read this! I've played the violin for 7 years. I want to quit, NOW. I'm getting the nerve to tell you, and when I do you better listen. I don't want to go to lessons anymore, or sit through another stupid seminar. This ends now. "
09/26/2011:
" I'm 12 and I play the violin, and I've played it for 7 stinkin years! I want to quit so badly but my mom makes me practice every day. I tell her I want to quit, but she says it'll be good for me in the future. I understand that but it's just so much stress put on me. "
03/23/2011:
"You shouldn't force kids into something or else they may end up jaded from playing an instrument ever again. I remember how much I loved band (played tenor saxophone, and even taught myself the oboe and flute, I got quite good at the oboe because after teaching myself I decided to take a second band class). Loved loved loved band, practicing and playing were huge parts of my life. I had friends and wasn't very shy when amongst fellow band members (just one around would put my social anxiety at ease). That all ended when HS band came around, I actually thought about not even joining band in high school because I knew the director and from the very beginning I knew she just didn't like me. However, I shrugged those negative thoughts off and stayed in band. It was heck, the fact that I was uncoordinated did not exactly help when it came to marching band (which is mandatory and military style, so it had to be precise...instead of showy like all the other high school marching bands). It was just not working out. I have bad nerves, so it was next to impossible to play by myself in front of the director for a memory test. I was coming home in tears every day and my parents were furious when I told them I wanted to quit. Heck, even I was sorely disappointed in myself that my love for playing was squashed when in HS band. So next semester of freshman year I quit and haven't looked back since. I was active on yearbook staff and newspaper staff, and on the U.I.L. journalism team. If you let your kids quit something, trust them to find something they do love. I still play my saxophone and flute FOR FUN and that's all that should matter, let your kids be kids. I should also note that the only good experience I've had with private lessons was with my middle school band director, he's intelligent and you just know how passionate he is about music, and extremely encouraging. In other lessons, I felt way too shy and scared so I could barely get a note out or play a piece correctly-it wasn't cause I couldn't, I was just nervous."
04/29/2010:
"I am heart broken, we have invested years and tons of money on my daughter's violin lessons and violins, and she is quite good, but refuses to practice. So I am quitting, I am not paying for another single lesson. I am mad as well. She is the one that wanted to learn and asked for the darn thing. My other daughter is in gymnastics and loves it and she is awesome at it, but for a couple of months she did very poorly, almost as if she didn't want to be there. Now she is 'back' and doing even better than before...I guess sometimes children need a break."
04/14/2010:
"Hi im a teenager and i play clarinet and my father died a little while ago and my mom is forcing me to play clarinet for another 9 years and its horrible and i just want to quit sooo much ive been playing for 5 years and i hate it please help"
01/9/2009:
"I am not so sure that quitting is as bad as many suggest and that sticking with something is always the honorable thing to do. Maybe it's good for children to figure out what their limitations are. Also, parents should find out why their children want to quit. What about kids who are in situations where the teachers, coaches, etc. are abusive, unfair, creepy, or scary? Maybe children have no other way to explain their fears than to ask to quit. If all the children who were abused in church were kept in church activities for the reasons that many parents promote here then perhaps parents should take some of the responsibility for their children's long-term pain. In a different situation, I remember taking baton in 4th and 5th grade. I was not very good and didn't particularly like the girly atmosphere. I could also see no future as a baton twirler. Finally, my mother had me quit when I was forced to sell things for a fund-raiser; she didn't think children should have! to sell things door-to-door. I was relieved and was able to put time into other activities, such as music. In general, parents should be extremely aware of what children are saying, stand up for their children and respect them, and not bend over to a coach, a team or any adult authority that doesn't respect the child."
01/2/2009:
"Very glad I read this.... But, what do ya do when your child is just not interested in anything?? Even just getting dressed to go outside. My son is so active, but just doesnt want to do ANYTHING anymore. Not even play outside. It makes me sad that he just gives up on life so young and we dont push him to anything. Until now of course. I think children need that contact with other children and fresh air. Its not healthy for children to be sedentary ... This is my belief. But this article has helped me to know that I should push him to find an interest and get him engaged in something he enjoys. TY"
09/15/2008:
"okay..... i am tired of watching parents push their life time dream through their children! poor children get frustrated with all the pressure, some of them are so small and have alot on their shoulders. Just let them enjoy their childhood because in the long run they still have to deal with their teen years and those years bring alot of stress mixed with conflicts..."
09/15/2008:
"Wow! What a great article and the comments it sparked are even better! To the educator/coach/parent who wrote in, thank you! That was the best and most helpful post I have seen on any internet discussion board in a long time! To the 'piano doctorate' who wrote in, Wow! Your family has such impressive accomplishments! I had never heard of abacus math classes, but now am going to look into it for my daughter. Also, I love how you end your post with the mention of no tv - I think that tells so much. We have also chosen not to have tv and I think it is one of the best decisions we've made - it is definitely one of the keys to a productive and fulfilling life at any age. "
08/22/2008:
"My son just started high school and I always pictured myself watching him at his high school football games, as I was a cheer leader I know the excitment and always had school spirit. He decided to play and is in his second week of practice. We live in Arizona so it gets very hot and heat stroke definatly worries me. He says sometimes he feels dizzy. Now they are starting to tackle alot at practice and he has never been the agressive type. He wants to quit, but his coach made it known that he will not except quitters and if anyone wants to quit they need permission from the whole team. Now my son comes home cring that he hates football and does not want to go to school. That he can not handle another practice. I told him to try to hang in there for the season and not to play next year. That it is important to keep a commitment. It is hard to see my son so unhappy and I feel it is damaging a good kid who used to like school and now seems very depressed. How do I support ! him? I am a little dissapointed that it didn't work out. I also know he can't go on like this. How do we go about quitting the team? Sports should be fun and something they get to do not have to do."
08/19/2008:
"Great article! As an educator, coach, and a parent of two teenagers; I see this from every angle. My parents instilled a work ethic in our family when we were growing up that quitting is not an option. You finish what you start. Then you re-assess what you have done. Was the season/year good or not so good? Were you successful? Did you have growth? Did you make a contribution? Did you help someone else achieve some degree of success? This has helped me through my life, and is how my wife and I are working to raise our children. Then we help to guide them to decisions that they will be comfortable with and be able to live with. It seems like in this day and age, everything is supposed to be fun and everyone is supposed to have success at everything they do. This is totally unrealistic! Life is not that way. Everyone has setbacks in life. No one is successful at everything they do. When life knocks us to the ground, we get up, dust ourselves off and learn from the experience. Life is not like 'Burger King' - You can't always have it 'Your Way!' My wife and I have tried to be there when our children have fallen and work to help them get back on track. We hold them accountable for their school-work, their sports/activities schedules and how they use their free time. At first it was difficult, but now our 16 year-old son is seeing the benefits to how we have been raising him and his sister. We don't have a PS2, X-Box360 or Wii at our house. We encourage trips to the library, we watch classic videos (when we can get them) as a family, send them to camps they want to attend, etc. As an educator, frustrating to watch young students quit things when it gets a little difficult. I put the blame on parents for not helping their kids through the difficult times instead of throwing in the towel when the whining begins. Life is full of challenges, work to meet them head on, work to effect change. Be a solution, not part of the problem. Now days we have parents calling to complain about grades, the class is too hard, my son/daughter had a game last night, etc. I've even heard that parents are now calling the kid's college instructors to complain. OUCH! Yes, we all want to protect our kids and have them succeed, but at what cost? What are they really learning? >From a coach's viewpoint, I suggest that every parent who has a child participating in a sport should volunteer their time to help coach their kid's sport sometime bewteen kindergarten and the 8th grade. It's a very fulfilling time and creates a great bond between you and your child. It also brings a bit of reality to how the team concept works. Many of us are trying to relive our childhood dreams through our kids, and that's just wrong on every level. Yes, it's important to win games; but it is more important to teach through the game. Things like good sportsmanship, teamwork and life in general. I've always told my teams that I want your best effort in every practice and every game. When each athlete can look me in the eye and said that they gave their very best, then I know that we have reached another level of growth/success; even if we lost the game. Some of my teams were very successful and others struggled, but all of them grew as young men and women and found! success. The underlying idea is to remain postive, help your child learn from their failures, and to build upon their strengths. If we all do that as parents, educators and coaches; we will help the next generation of young adults fufill their dreams."
08/19/2008:
"One aspect that the article didn't mention was how to handle the situation of one child being extremely gifted at something, and the other child wanting to quit the activity because of this. My mother made me miserable all through my childhood for many reasons, but the fact that I had to take piano lessons, despite having no ability, while my older sister was a star performer really did add to my overall level of childhood misery. My parents didn't want to pay for a lot of activities, or drive us around to a lot of places (my mother worked) so my mother chose piano as they already owned a piano, and the piano teacher came to our house. I begged to switch to a different instrument, but she wouldn't let me. A thrifty decision for her, except for the fact that I never actually learned to play the piano at all."
08/15/2008:
"We need to do a better job at hiring coaches.We have some that dont no the games.Dont care for the kids."
07/21/2008:
" I think this article is very true and growing up for me at age 5 I played soccer, took ballet, and gymnastics lessons...NOw at age 13 I do none of these.....They were all just phases of wanting to be a ballerina, or a olympic medalist ect. I say that every child is going to want to try something new to they really fall in love with something....I went to a horse backriding camp at age 11 and now I live and breath horses...riding at least 4 times a week it is my life.....But I also have friend that has danced since the age of 3 and her mom will not let her quit and she only thinks it so so but she dances every day of the week.....My advice is do not put a lot of moeny into your childs 'passion' (because there normally short lived) intil it really is there passion (and when they are good) and there willing to do anything to get better.....I also think that you should not care if your child wants to change instruments, kinds of dance (tap to ballet ect.) or change there hor! sebackridind from english to western (or other way around) Because there still sticking with it they are doing just curious about other styles"
07/11/2008:
"This email was helpful in confirming that I was on the right path of thinking as a parent. Too often we misjudge ourselves and wonder are we 'right' or 'wrong.' Encouraging a child to finish what they start, especially if there is a team involved is vital. If they say they want to quit, the 'why' is so important. That's when we as parents, LISTEN, and then continue with the decision appropriate to the 'why.' I do believe some children, like one of my four, are not going to take to one interest. He has tried baseball, swimming, and soccer. Each were his choices and AFTER the end of each activity he made the decision as to continue again. I will continue to encourage the choices he makes. We also discuss what is involved before starting the activity too. I believe some children may want to 'play' more than 'learn' about one sport or interest, it has to be kept fun. The child is the one who makes the decision of it being 'fun' vs. to much to 'learn.' I believe it is s! o important that the child not be forced, it is their decision and they have fun with the activity. Not everyone is a musician or athlete and that is ok. With time and support, each child will find what they are happy doing."
07/7/2008:
"I started taking ballet, abacus mathematics, piano and Japanese Dance at the age of 3. When I was 6, my mother made the decision to quit taking ballet because she was told certain body types were favored and having children and a family forces dancers to quit. Japanese Dance lesson ended because we moved to the USA and no teacher was available in Bangor, Maine. Abacus mathematics ended because no one taught this in El Paso, Tx. at the time and I was 5 years advanced in Math by the time I was in 7th grade. So, I continued piano. I practiced because I loved music. Even if the melody and harmonies were dull, I practiced until it was memorized. BUT, I asked my mother if I could take a break from piano during my Junior year in high school because I wanted to be active in the National Honor's Society, perform with the Jazz Dance Club, become a cheer leader, and become a committee member to make a 'float' for the Home Coming Football game parade. My mother had no problem with ! it. I had a great time! I even had time to have a boyfriend. Decades later, I have a doctorate in piano performance. Today, we have a 5 years old son. In a different class, we take tap dance class and practice at home together. It is fun! Since he was born, we have sung songs to him, danced with him, and explored different instruments. Today, he composes music when he feels like it, improvises on the piano, dances to Justin Timberlake's music, writes his own books (with help) and loves to cook. For the summer, he's been exploring gymnastics, swimming and basketball. Catching grasshoppers and praying mantis has never been more fun! He enjoys these subject areas and focuses on them for 10 minutes to an hour at least 3-4 times a week. He has many quiet times: naps, reading, play time and coloring. Now that he will start full time kindergarten starting August, we will focus on sleeping habits (on time every night 7:15 p.m.), eating nutritious meals, building character, how to make new friends, learning to become more independent, establishing routines at school and at home, and completing home work. We will then see what energy and interests arise from all of this. Will he continue dance, art, gymnastic, music, math, more reading, or basketball after school this year? Will he have energy for any one of this after 6.5 hours of school as oppose to 3.5 hours of preschool? As always, he will tell me and he will choose. I just make it fun. Oh, we do not have TV. :)"
06/18/2008:
"This is a great article with clear guidelines relevant to all parents! I found the perspective that kids may change/try instruments helpful as both my musical kids are actively experimenting with various instruments right now."
06/16/2008:
"I am a strong advocate for finishing what you start. My daughter was in dance (ballet, tap, jazz, modern, etc.) for 12 years. After about age 8 and after a 'lazy summer break', she would tell us that she didn't want to dance in the coming year. We would agree to a period of six weeks and then have another discussion about whether or not she would continue. Every year, after getting back into the swing, she kept dancing until she was about 16 and became more interested in modeling. In my view, activities are partially habit and sometimes need to be reestablished. To us, the most important thing was that it would be her decision after the 'trial' period. If a child truly does not enjoy an activity any longer, they should be allowed to stop. A child needs to learn commitment, but also needs to learn when and how to decide to quit so that they can make the same decisions wisely as an adult when faced with other situations. After all, everything we try to teach them is t! o prepare them to be independent in an adult world. Many adults suffer from over-commitment and the inability to say 'no' or to quit something that is no longer right for them. Both skills need to be learned for good mental and emotional health."
06/9/2008:
"I played cello for 8 years and then quit once I got a guitar. Perhaps if some of these suggestions had been present in my home environment, I might have enjoyed playing the cello much more and would have stuck with it longer. I like Cutietta's comment that children are raised, as opposed to just being born. I needed my practicing to be much more structured early on- something I couldn't do for myself as an 8-year old. The parents proactive involvement will directly effect the child's musical achievement. "
06/9/2008:
"We have had the long standing rule with our 8yr old daughter that if she starts an activity she must follow through on the commitment (dance is the recital year) and skating is 3 month increments)then when it is over she can then choose to stop. It has worked well and she understands peoples time is important. She ice skates 3 days a week and dances 2 days a week and she also knows that if she wants to do another activity she has to give something up and she has made her choices. Since she was 4 she has done swimming, dance, soccer, tennis and skating and in the last year she has settled at least for now on dance and skating. She hates to quit anything though, she thinks she can do it all but she is realizing that she can't. I think that we as parents need to give our kids some credit and trust that sometimes they do know what they are doing. If we set the guidelines in advance there really is no questions when they want to give something up. "
06/9/2008:
"I found this article very insightful and educational... My son has always come to me and told me what it was he wanted to participate in - Quitting has NEVER been an option... even when his feet were bothering him during Track - he did not want to quit (yes I took him to the Dr. !) but if that day comes I know how to better handle the situation. I allow him to choose what he wants to participate in and thus far we have had GREAT success... He has done Track, Tennis, Soccer, Basketball and he is currently Acting! These have all been his choices - not mine. He does not like football so he doesn't have to play - which I prefer! Children must learn early in life that commitment and perseverance is a necessity to moral fiber... A man is only as good as his word - if you give a commitment see it through to the end. No one likes a wishy washy person!"
06/9/2008:
"My son was so determined to quit partway through his first season of baseball that he threw his uniform and glove in the trash can on garbage day and didn't tell us for a day or two - too late to rescue them! What do you say to that? We had to let him quit, but made him pay us back for the cost of the things he threw out. I think the person that talked about development hit the nail on the head. Both of my children have had coaches that knew nothing about how to motivate children and just said mean things to them when they didn't perform well. But sometimes they just want to quit because something is hard. My older one learned when I forced him to stay with music that 'practice makes easier' (not perfect,we don't aim for perfection - how intimidating is that?). After my insistance that he stick with music, and willingness to pay for private lessons when public school music wasn't working out, he loved it and played for another 4 years. Now we're struggling with that again!"
06/6/2008:
"I found this article very insightful and educational... My son has always come to me and told me what it was he wanted to participate in - Quitting has NEVER been an option... even when his feet were bothering him during Track - he did not want to quit (yes I took him to the Dr. !) but if that day comes I know how to better handle the situation. I allow him to choose what he wants to participate in and thus far we have had GREAT success... He has done Track, Tennis, Soccer, Basketball and he is currently Acting! These have all been his choices - not mine. He does not like football so he doesn't have to play - which I prefer! Children must learn early in life that commitment and perseverance is a necessity to moral fiber... A man is only as good as his word - if you give a commitment see it through to the end. No one likes a wishy washy person!"
06/5/2008:
"I struggle with my son. He's played soccer for several seasons and baseball for a couple. He knows he needs to complete the season, that's not an issue...and he's pretty good...not the star, but can hold his own. But he insists he doesn't want to play any more...I'm ok with that except, I asked him to pick something else to become involved in...he simply doesn't want to do anything...I've offered anything from gymnastics to voice lessions to drum lessons to baseball ...or whatever else...nothing perks his interest. At what point does a parent force the issue? He loves to ride is bike etc...he's not lazy. Any insights???"
06/5/2008:
"If the child has chosen this activity, then by all means encourage them to continue, but these days kids are pushed into lots of activities- especially sports - and it's really not for them. Parents have to separate their wants from the childs and not worry about making their kids 'good at everything'."
06/5/2008:
"My daughter, 8, and in the 3rd grade wanted to join the orchestra and learn to play the violin. We discussed all the practice time that was required of her, and we even went as far as buying a Learn to CD and have her watch it before making her decision. She decided she still wanted to play it. We checked out prices of renting and found it was actually cheaper to buy one off of ebay even with the shipping. She started off the year with great promise with her own beautiful violin, the teacher was even jealous of it...lol. By the middle of the year it was like pulling teeth to get her to practice. She was begging to quit her lessons. We put our foot down though. We told her she had to finish out the year with her violin lessons. We explained to her that it was like having to go to work, that someone might not like it, but others were counting on her to do her part in the concerts and that she had to honor her commitment. We thought that if we allowed her to quit that we were giving her the impression that she could just up and quit whenever she was uncomfortable with it. We ended up donating the violin to a young girl who played the year before, but her parents could not afford to rent her one because of a job loss. "
06/5/2008:
"I really appreciated the article but felt it missed the most important factor: strong youth development practices by the organization or program leader, coach, teacher, etc. All youth programs, regardless of the activity provided, need to provide children with (in order or priority): - a sense of physical and emotional safety - opportunities to develop caring relationships with other youth and with staff/volunteers - opportunities for meaningful participation (youth have a say in what goes on in the program/organization) - opportunities to engage in and learn about the community (field trips, community service, experts come in to talk to the kids) - opportunities to build skills; to face and master challenges A child's decision to quit an activity/program may have less to do with their intrinsic interest and more to do with their experience when they're there. I encourage parents to think about these factors of youth development any time they're signing up their kids for an afterschool program, music lesson, sports activity - or anything they do outside of school. (See this link for more information about youth development: http://www.cnyd.org/framework/index.php)"
06/5/2008:
"Ditto on the comment about not quitting and how to complete something! However for music and foreign language - the kids must do this while they live with us. Because the language we want is not available in the school system anywhere in SW WA, we must pay for this on our own which is fine. But our kids are at a huge disadvantage by not knowing more than one language and there are studies that show that music helps kids learn better. As the parent I decide what is best of our kids until they are independent and it is an opportunity for the kids, not punishment. Cruel is not a word I would use to describe to teach discipline and commitment."
06/5/2008:
"This is a great subject. We try and encourage our daughter to not quit at anything. Instead we discuss how she will COMPLETE something. So if she talks about 'quitting' something we change the conversation to one of completion. i.e. she can complete a sport at the end of the season or at the end of some accomplishment. Her music may end when she has completed a recital, etc. We may negotiate the completion event with her so that she feels she has accomplished something in the end. We feel this gives her life lessons which she will take with her forever. "
06/5/2008:
"We have a rule that if they join a sport they finish the season, then if they don't want to play when the next season they don't have to. Being that our boys are in team sports they know before the season starts that they are part of a team and they have a commitment to finish the season. As a coach, it is very frustrating when your team dwindles down after a few games and your kids have to play more time because they have nobody to cover them. We also allow only one sport a season so we don't have a full weeks schedule. "
06/5/2008:
"Dear Cali Teacher, I am sorry that you do not have a job this fall. However, your improper use of written English is disturbing, and may indicate that you should have chosen a different career... Moreover, your negative attitude and encouraging children to 'quit because their is no money in schools...' is very disappointing. Maybe the school just told you they did not have any money and really just decided not to renew your contract. We all have talents, skills and passions. Good luck in discovering yours, it will lead to a sucessful career. DT J.D."
06/5/2008:
"This article was interesting. It was almost too coincidental how my husband spoke to my 14 year olds Master Teacher of Karate about quitting for a period of time. The inability to juggle paying for summer tutoring and karate has led us to make the decision of putting education first. This of course is no stress to the son who complained about going, knew I was paying for sessions he didn't attend, enjoyed the sessions when he thought I wasn't watching, and mentioned many times how he wanted to quit. Whatever our decision my son would rather being doing nothing - I call it lazy. Anyway, the instructor was so cool, he shared personal information about being classified ADD as a child (just like my son), and offered to pay for his summer karate practices. This is a blessing (as I have come to realize) because I am off during the summer (without pay). I think his kindness has convinced my son to remain interested in continuing Karate. My son is good at Karate. We've tried so! ccer, basketball, swimming, and the competitiveness always killed him so when the season ended that's when I would let him quit those sports. I can only say this to any parent considering letting their child quit that they need to watch what their child does during practice. If your child is bored out of their mind during several sessions (its over, forget it, nothing you say will keep their interest). However, if your child is like mine (phoney), discourage them from quitting. Quitting doesn't teach perserverance. Quitting is alright in my book when a season is over, abusive language is a part of a sport, or there is no respect. Otherwise, I always tell my son; 'When you reach the black belt level then you can quit.' "
06/5/2008:
"As a sport/ performance psychology consultant, I encourage clients to try 2-3 sessions to discuss with children, in the age range of 11-18, these very hard decisions. Should they let an activity go or press on? There is not a simple formula, your article is right, every situation and child is different. Speaking with some one outside of the situation, not involved directly, offers new perspectives for a child, parent, coach or teacher. A trained consultant will be familiar with the more common issues and knows how to guide a family through the decision process. Without doubt, how one makes these decisions is a valuable life lesson and also a skill to be acquired. (Yes, sometimes you have to listen to your instincts too, after you identify them.) If it gets too hard to handle 'in house,' I recommend any licensed professional in my field for help that you wont regret. Ellen B. Klyce, MA MFT"
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