Posted: Nov 19, 2013 9:00 AM
 
Ever wonder what to do when kids want to quit? This tricky topic incites strong opinions. Do perseverance and building a strong work ethic outweigh knowing when to say no and walk away? Real moms and experts explain their thoughts on should I allow my child to quit.

The first day of our children's new activities are filled with excitement and fun. The soccer cleats are tied and the swim caps are donned, the smile is wide and the camera is clicked. The sticky part sometimes comes on day — or week — two. What do you do when your little one doesn't want to continue with an activity? Real moms weigh in: Push them through or let them quit?

Stick it out

If a child tends to jump from activity to activity and begs to quit every time a challenge arises, that child can get into a negative pattern of running away when the going gets tough.

We want our kids to understand the value of commitment, to be there for their teams and to be the kinds of adults that see things through. Katie Hurley, LCSW, says, "If a child tends to jump from activity to activity and begs to quit every time a challenge arises, that child can get into a negative pattern of running away when the going gets tough."

So for many parents, quitting an activity just isn't an option and this kind of parenting for the future is the reason why.

Kids quitting- Karen Case

This is the case for Karen Carr, public relations executive and mother of three highly-involved kids. Carr explains, "As the mother of three very active children — sailing, swimming, basketball,
 soccer, baseball and lacrosse — my position on whether they may quit a team or an 
activity is: no way. If you make the commitment, you stick with it. It
 doesn't have to be forever, not a life sentence, but my kids know that they
're expected to see the activity through. Barring illness or academic challenges, this expectation includes all practices, scrimmages, meets,
 matches and games. Whether they continue with the activity after the 
season or class has ended is up to them. 

Activities and sports provide kids with a great opportunity to learn about 
commitments and the importance of honoring them. They learn that their 
actions impact others like their teammates, coaches and instructors. Seeing things through is also a great life 
lesson that will go well beyond the little league fields, buddy ball courts and 
piano lessons."

Let them quit

The truth is that kids don't know whether or not they will enjoy a sport or activity until they try. And sometimes those attempts won't work out.

But there is a flip-side to this coin. Not every activity is for every kid, and they are, after all, just kids. Hurley says, "Parents often worry about raising a quitter. So much so that many parents require kids to finish absolutely everything they start simply for the sake of finishing. The truth is that kids don't know whether or not they will enjoy a sport or activity until they try. And sometimes those attempts won't work out. If a child experiences stress or anxiety as the result of a sport or activity, quitting the activity can alleviate the excess stress. It also teaches children the value of self-care and how to walk away from situations that cause undue stress."

Kids quitting- Anna Peterson

Anna Peterson, a homeschool mom who also works part time as a self-employed family counselor, couldn't agree with Hurley more. Anna says, "I'm a mom who has let my child quit an activity. My oldest daughter participated in classical ballet lessons for over 10 years. When she was four, I decided to enroll her in the local ballet school. Her motto as a preteen was "live to dance: dance to live." She danced with a professional company with soloists from all over the U.S. Suddenly, at age 15, she announced that she wanted to quit before the spring recital! This was not an easy decision for her, for me or for the company director. She had devoted large amounts of time to ballet and piano and excelled at both. She was scheduled to perform a solo piano recital at the local community college for the spring. She had also decided to start college as a music major in the fall with scholarships. She knew that there were just not enough hours in a day for her to continue to develop herself in both ballet and piano. So she chose to master piano. Parents invest in children's development and our children decide for themselves as they grow up. At that point in her life, it was my job to listen to her, not decide for her. While the wise parent will usually not let their kids quit mid-season, parents must be confident enough to trust our older children to choose their own destiny and happiness."

Balance it out

As our kids get older, many parents learn that there isn't one right answer for every child in every situation. This just may be the case when it comes to quitting.

Hurley says simply, "It's important to talk through these decisions carefully."

Kids quitting- Darah Zeledon

You have to know your kid and make sound judgments that best befit each child's personality, character and abilities.

Mother of five, author, speaker and coach Darah Zeledon is a firm believer in parenting the kid, and not the issue. She explains, "I have confronted this issue myself as a mom of five, and after much debating and aggravation, I believe each case must be considered individually. Some children are more focused and decided about what their true passions and interests are; other kids are dabblers and need to experiment with a variety of sports and activities before truly honing in on theirs. Bottom line: You have to know your kid and make sound judgments that best befit each child's personality, character and abilities. 
I implement five different parenting styles for each of my kids. One of my sons begins everything full of zest and then the burning desire fizzles out. I no longer formally enroll him in anything unless I observe him practicing a sport alone, at home, outside, all day long — if he wants something badly enough, he'll find a way to do it wherever and alone. Only then do I know he is truly motivated to take it to the next level. 
Likewise, one of my three daughters has been doing acrobatics around the house and all over the yard for years, with no formal training. Now I see that she not only has natural talent, but she's also driven to learn no matter what. She watches how-to YouTube videos and pretends to be a gymnast every chance she gets. For her, I am investing in professional instruction. She has shown dedication and consistent interest over the long-term. 
Really, it's all trial and error. I didn't even know some of the things I wanted to pursue until my late 30s, so how could I expect my kids to?"

Share with us!^

We love the phrase parenting the kid and not the issue, but we also think it's important to firmly know the values you want to pass onto your children, and realize that this passing down starts early.

So share with us! What would you do if your child wanted to quit a sport or an activity — let them quit or have them stick it out?

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