This topic actually comes up a lot in therapy with kids and parents. A child will get started on some team or with some activity and partway through, will decide they don’t want do that team or activity anymore. And the parent is then left with a predicament of “do I make them stick it out?“ or “doing with them quit?“
Really, it comes down to a couple of things. First, you know your child better than anyone else. So don’t let any therapist or psychologist, even me, tell you what is best for your kid. But, I also want to say that sometimes we can get so rigid with our ways that we miss the most important thing.
Here’s the truth:
- If you make them stick it out… that’s a great lesson. Perseverance and overcoming obstacles is a great lesson to learn early on.
- If you let them quit… That is also a great lesson. Teaching them to listen to what their body is saying and what they truly want to do with their time and energy, is something most people don’t realize until much later in life, if at all.
So you see how either way, you can make it a teachable moment?
If you still aren’t sure, here are a few additional indicators to consider:
When to call it quits:
If your child is having a physical reaction, like stomachaches that are clearly linked to their anxiety about the activity, then it might be time to just take a break. It may not mean that they will never come back to that sport or activity. It may just mean that they need more development and more maturity to do that activity well. Don’t give up hope!
But there is also no sense in making them be tortured through something that is so anxiety-provoking. You are not “toughening them up” by making them stick it out. You are simply torturing them. And frankly torturing you. None of us likes to see our child that way. And none of us likes to feel trapped in an anxiety-provoking situation.
When it might be time to stick it out:
It might be time to stick it out if you know that your child will enjoy it if they can just get over the initial anxiety of starting something new. You may increase the level of support for them to make them feel more comfortable. You might also increase motivation to engage in that sport or activity by providing a reward for their participation. Yes I know. Some of you don’t like that. However, sometimes I need a little reward to keep doing things that I know I need to do. All humans work that way. And animals too, frankly. Stopping on the way home for an ice cream cone as a reward for playing hard or picking up a snack at the convenience store because you know how much they love that we will not ruin them. It gives you the space to tell them how proud you are of them for trying something new and give them a little boost of excitement. Nothings wrong with that.