Summer vacation is finally here, and now that school is done your child might also be ready to put an end to his other commitments. Whether it’s the baseball team, summer camp, or karate class, it is inevitable that at some point your child is going to want to quit. So how do you handle it?
First, realize that this is a great opportunity to talk to your child about perseverance, which s a life skill that is absolutely vital to his success. You can talk about perseverance until you’re blue in the face, but until the time comes when your child actually wants to quit it’s difficult to put it into practice.
There are a couple instances in which it is okay to let your child quit. First, if it is an unsafe environment. If during any activity, there are clearly unsafe conditions you must remove your child from that environment. No activity is worth the chance of a serious injury. The second is if the activity has no value. Families are just too busy nowadays to participate in any activity that is not going to increase their child’s chances for success. Any activity your child participates in should help him to become more confident, more disciplined, and more focused.
Most the time, however, quitting should not be an option. What if your child says he is bored? Boredom is often a sign that your child just needs to be challenged differently. If your child says he’s bored, talk to the coach, counselor, or instructor about what you can do to re-motivate him so he can continue to grow.
He might say it’s too hard, but the only way to experience growth is to step outside of your comfort zone. In any kind of development, it has to be hard before it is easy. Working through that discomfort or difficulty is what is going to give your child the confidence to overcome other obstacles in the future.
Another reason kids want to quit is that they are involved in too many activities. One of the most important lessons we can teach is time management and how to prioritize commitments. If your child committed to something, now is a great time to teach those lessons. Once the commitment is fulfilled, talk as a family about which activities you all think are most important to continue. Remember to give more weight to those activities that have more value.
Many times a child will want to quit when starting a new grade or school. We know one of the best ways to develop confidence is through past experience. In times of transition, whether it’s starting a new school or a new grade, it’s important that children have something consistent that they know they’re good at. Even with an increased workload, they should have a positive, structured after-school activity that will help to develop focus and good work habits.
You might feel bad about forcing your child to stick with it, but why? It’s good for him, isn’t it? You force him to brush his teeth, take baths, eat his vegetables, turn off the TV and do his homework, right? This should be no different. As a parent it is your responsibility to look out for your child’s best interest even when they don’t like what that means in the short term.