You’ve paid the fee. You’ve bought the cleats, the uniform, all the equipment, the shin pads – you name it. You shuttled him to and from practice. You cheered him on in the hot sun, you watched him fail in the mud puddle-filled field in that torrential downpour. Now your child wants to quit the team.
We’re trained to believe we’re not quitters. We believe we should stick it out, and so should our children. When is it ok to let your child quit a team sport?
Talk to Your Child
Why does she want to quit? What’s going on? Are kids picking on her? Does she feel unsuccessful? Is she bored? Having discussed these questions, ask yourself what your philosophy is. Is your family a “we don’t quit at any cost” type of family? Depending on the situation, you might want to encourage your child to stick with it.
If your family believes it’s ok to try something, see if you like it and if not it’s ok to move on to something you do, then do that. Other families have a definite “Finish what you start” philosophy. So, for example, if your child wants to quit a six-week session of soccer, consider encouraging her to keep with it until the session is over. Then she can move on.
Consider What You Want Your Child to Take Away from This
Is the take-away that, “gosh, martial arts was a lot of work and somewhere around brown or red belt I really wanted to give up, but my mom made me stick with it and now I’m a black belt – look what I have achieved”? Or is it, “I learned some cool self-defense moves but I don’t want to do this four nights a week for the next three years because I want to take guitar lessons”?
Whatever you decide, realize this will be a life lesson for your child. It might give your child the freedom to say, “You know, law school wasn’t what I thought it would be and I’d feel more fulfilled teaching high school history,” or it could mean the difference between completing that PHD and having an unfinished dissertation.
Teaching your child that it’s easy to walk away when things get tough isn’t a good lesson, but teaching a child that she has options and doesn’t have to stick with something that is making her miserable when there are other alternatives is a good lesson.
Whatever you decide, remind your child that it’s important to finish what you start and see things through. People need to be able to count on you and a team needs every member for a reason. On the other hand, if there’s a really good reason your child may want to quit the team, talk it over, consider all sides and make an informed decision.
Deciding when or if to quit a team sport is a tough decision that parents and children should work on together. There are a lot of pros and cons to consider and it’s important to weigh all sides and be sure you’ve been there to watch him or her at games and practices so you understand the situation as best you can. Whatever your decision, go with your gut. Know that your instincts are probably right, and you’re a good parent. Good luck.