Google+ Authentic Parenting: Nobody Likes a Quitter. But Should We?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Nobody Likes a Quitter. But Should We?

As our children joyfully immerse themselves into new activities, we hope for them to succeed. We may even foster big dreams and start having great expectations. We think the activity will help them thrive and might envision careers…
No parent enrolls their child into a lesson or activity with the idea of failure or boredom in mind.

Yet sometimes an activity isn't as shiny and new for long. Maybe the brochure was more enticing than reality. After a while, your child's interests have changed. What now?

Image: JoelK75 on Flickr
The enrollment may have cost a lot of money, and there's the equipment. You may have committed to carpooling with other parents. But most eagerly, you don't want your quitter.
Will ceasing this activity set a tone for the rest of your child's life? Will your child live to never finish anything? Will he live to regret his decision not to push through?

It's a fact that our society frowns upon quitting. People are expected to push through, no matter the cost, no matter the resentment or frustration. And parents ensure their children grow up to do just this from early on.
From the ballet classes your 4 year old doesn't really like - but surely are great for her posture - to the martial arts you enrolled your son in to deplete his energy. We push our children to endure activities they've long lost interest in, because of the investments we've made. Because if they're not practicing now, they'll never learn.

Yet pushing your child to persevere in an activity they totally dislike is stripping them from the means to say "no" later on in life. The child who is forced to follow the ballet classes might end up going to a job that makes her miserable for the rest of her life, the boy who grew tired of the martial arts may not be able to decline his boss's pushiness and mistreatment.
Children should have a say in the decision process when it comes to the activities they are taking part in.

So how does one go about ensuring there will be no regrets?

  • Enroll your child only in activities they're interested in. Often we are replacing their interests with the things we feel we missed out on.
  • Take the activity for a test drive, or enroll in something that has an easy step-out procedure (maybe with a partial refund). If your child gets to test the activity, he'll figure out if it's everything he hoped it to be, and everything the brochure promised.
  • Nothing is lost! Even at a later age, your child may pick up an activity again. Even if your child develops a fast for the guitar later in life, with commitment and passion, they'll learn to play better than if they were forced to do it at a younger age. Too much focus is placed nowadays in pushing them to excel at a young age. Childhood is not a time to push your child to genius. Childhood is a time for play and enjoyment. They'll get there if that's what they're intended to be.
  • Make sure your child feels safe to express his or her feelings, even if they're negative. Quitting an activity should not disappoint you, it is -after all- their life.
  • Don't be afraid to discuss the issue. There can be many reasons why your child wants to quit, make sure they're the right reasons. If you are unsure, ask for them to join one more session.
  • Make sure your child knows about the consequences: there will be no money for another activity/wednesdays may be boring spent alone at the house/ he may not get to see his friends again…

Quitting an activity will still be a laden situation, but hopefully these tips will help you through. Have you ever been in this situation? How did you handle it?


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