How should a parent react when a child or teen wants to quit a sport, activity, class, or friendship?
When my daughters were in kindergarten and first grade, they begged me to take dance lessons. For several months, all they talked about was learning to dance. So I found a local studio that offered classes around the same time (and allowed for monthly signups), plus a place for me to wait with my toddler and baby. I bought them tap and dance shoes, leotards and little dance skirts. The first month, everything appeared great. The girls enjoyed their classes, and I was learning to juggle a toddler and nine-month-old in the cramped waiting area of the studio.
Then, just as I signed them up and paid for a second month, they started balking about going. Sighing when I said it was time for dance class. Turns out, dance class wasn’t quite what they had imagined. “We thought it would be twirling in front of the mirror, not doing the same thing over and over again,” they both told me earnestly.
I made them complete the classes I had paid for, but let them quit after that. Sometimes, we have to walk a fine line between letting our child stop doing something and encouraging them to continue. “In our materialistic world of almost murderous competition, there is tremendous pressure on children to excel at external achievements, and at ever-younger ages,” said Vivian Percy, author of the soon-to-be-released Saving Jenny—Rescuing Our Youth from America’s Opioid and Suicide Epidemic.
“When kids underperform in sports, they get frustrated and often want to quit. While it’s important to encourage kids to find their own way and figure out what they shine in, it’s also important to teach them to finish what they start,” said Martise Moore, founder of GreenRunner and author of Stay Awesome Sports Journal: Crush It All Season Long. “That’s why I tell parents to keep their kids in their chosen sport throughout the duration of the season, even if their kids don’t like it anymore.”