Do you have a child that isn’t happy with their activity anymore? Or it is getting really bad where you are having to drag them out of the car or bribe them to get their uniform on for practice? Are you wondering how to decide if your child should quit an activity?
I was raised to never quit anything. I was a NCAA Div 1 athlete and had success in part because I was not ever a quitter….so this is very new territory to me. Some of my deeper thoughts are that I am partly worried that it could make them a “quitter” in life.
We have had two scenarios recently that ended in different results and it really made me think about what the difference was in deciding whether to quit the activity. I was asking friends how they had ever made these tough decisions so wanted to share what we did in case it helps others.
Scenario #1 – My daughter has been hating getting ready for ballet for over 6 months, maybe even the entire school year since I enrolled her. She seemed to be having a good time when I peeked into the room while she was dancing but this was the second year of the same dance class and she loved it the first year but had been complaining ever since she started up again in the fall. Every Tuesday when I would pull her leotard out of her closet she would completely freak out and start to cry and even run and hide in the house. This lasted for months. I couldn’t figure out what to do since she seemed to have fun in the actual class but hated getting ready.
Scenario # 2 – My boys have always dabbled with golf. They love to play with my husband but don’t really take any lessons. My husband is very good so he has always taught them. They were loving golf a couple of years ago but the past year have not really wanted to go very often. When my parents were looking for a birthday present idea I suggested a few golf clinics at a kids golf center in town hoping it would restart their interest. We went to the first clinic and they seemed to do just fine but the following week when we were getting ready for the second once one of my boys flipped out. He did not want to go and they are getting old enough that when they don’t want to get out of the car there is no way I can make them. I didn’t know what to do…let him go back home and just let his brother take all the lessons or try to force him to get out of the car.
Decision on #1 – When I really started asking her about dance and what she didn’t like she just said “It’s boring” or just crying. That answer wasn’t good enough so I kept digging for answers at different times. I would ask on days that weren’t even ballet days. I would start off with “You do not have ballet today so don’t worry but I just want to ask what you aren’t enjoying about ballet.” By asking her on another day when she wasn’t freaking out about getting ready for the class she opened up a little. She said, it is the same thing every class, we jump through the same hula hoops and line up in the same line to do the same things every time. I thought about it and she was right! She had been doing this preschool ballet class for 2 years and I didn’t even really notice but most of the girls didn’t do 2 years in a row. Now I finally realized that maybe she was bored.
I had been wondering if we should try gymnastics so here is what I did. I called for a free trial class at a gymnastics center and we went to try it out and she loved it. I asked her if she would rather do gymnastics than ballet and she was ecstatic. I told her she had to finish out the month since I had paid for it and then we would change. She has been so happy and is actually excited on gymnastics day to go to the gym.
Decision on #2 – I had to really dig to get an answer beyond “I just don’t want to!” and see what the problem was with the clinic. I finally got out of him that he didn’t want to play with a bunch of babies. This one son of mine is 8 but thinks he is 14. I went back to the golf instructor and talked with them a bit and said my son did not want to come play because he was unhappy playing with kids younger than him. Now, I only mentioned it to them because I happen to know that my boys are at a pretty good level of golf. They probably play at the same level as most of the kids a couple of years older than them. So the head golf instructor mentioned that because that particular afternoon was very windy that hardly any kids had shown up so he was willing to move my boys to the older group. My son agreed to get out of the car and go to the clinic. I held my breath the whole 90 mins they were at the clinic.
When I picked them up, they had huge smiles. They had had a great clinic and from then on they have fallen back in love with golf. They went easily to all the remaining golf clinics and are even asking my husband to take them golfing every weekend. I am extremely happy that I pushed him and voiced his objections to the head instructor. I had thought it was a little ridiculous that he didn’t want to play in his age group but I guess he was right that he had a lot more fun in the other age group and if that is what it took to make him relearn to love the sport then it was a great move for us.
Conclusion: Remember to get beyond the “I just hate it” statements. Figure out if the real problem is something that can be remedied like an age group change with the same activity. If the activity is something that they have not been enjoying for months and they give specific examples of why it isn’t working then believe them. I am so glad I found something else for my daughter. Honestly she has even been been acting so much better now at school drop-offs and if I leave her with a sitter. She is happy at everything she is doing. On the opposite side of this, I am so happy I spoke to the golf instructor and really pushed my son to finish his golf lessons. He even begged to go play golf this past Sunday.
Every situation is different but wanted to share our examples. Do you have a time when you had to make a tough call with extracurricular activities? It is so hard to know if you are making the right decision. This parenting gig is tough!! 😉
Sarah @ Foxy's Domestic Side says
Such a good reminder to ask them why suddenly they aren’t liking something. Good problem solving skills Mama! Will keep this in mind as my kids start doing more activities.
Some really great points made here! There is usually more to it than a simple “I don’t want to.” The rule with us growing up is we got to choose one sport per season but we had to finish that season to the end. Great way of working around it so that they got to enjoy what they were doing!
I am really impressed with how well you have handled the two situations, so true that you need to dig deeper and get to the bottom of the issue. Definitely bookmarking for when I have my own kids. You are doing such a wonderful job, mama!
xx, Kusum | http://www.sveeteskapes.com
Robin Masshole Mommy says
It’s definitely an individual decision, but with my oldest son he was taking drum lessons and ended up having to stop because he was going for his black belt in karate class and it was just too time consuming to do both with all the extra practice he needed in karate.
These are such good points. I was in gymnastics my whole life and then one day just got so sick of it. I refused to ever go again and I regret it all of the time. I wish I could have worked out the issue in the way that you did with your kids!
Yes, it is so hard to decide what to do and how to coach our children to make good decisions.
SUch helpful ideas and examples. I love how you broke it down really specifically and looked at your decision and the results and really evaluated the entire process!
Karen | GlamKaren.com
Thanks Karen. Yes, it was kind of interesting that we had these 2 situations in the same month.
That’s such a tough decision. But I think sometimes kids just need to stick it out a little bit longer, because they may just be nervous about it and end up loving it. I know that was the case with me when I was a kid!
Yes, that is definitely the case in a lot of instances.
My kids are still so young, but we try to do one activity at a time and let them decide if they want to go back or try something new. If it is a seasonal activity that we’ve pre-paid they have to finish out the season. Then they can pick something new to do when it is finished. I don’t want to make them do something they don’t really enjoy, but I don’t want to pay for them to not like it either.
Ana De- Jesus says
Well said there is always an answer or a solution to a problem. I am glad that you took the time to sit down with the kids and ask them what they wanted to do instead.
Heather lawrence says
Oh boy..we have been there many many times. We want the kids to be happy but at the same time we want to make sure that they give it an honest try before they quit. If it’s a team sport we wait until after they are done for the season but not before as their team is depending on them.
I agree that team sports are an entire different type of commitment. 🙂
Lesley Carter says
We just talked about this last night with my daughter and soccer. She talked about it for almost a year before we signed her up but it wasn’t what she’d hoped. Together, we decided that she should stick it out for the rest of the season and then decide.
Sounds like a good move to stick with it until the end.
karissa Ancell says
It’s hard to know if you should let your child stop an activity. I struggled with it a few years ago when my daughter quit karate. She started doing ballet instead and it was a much better fit for her.
I love these tips, and how mindful you are of what your kids need in their lives.
I cried to my mom several times when I did ballet. I begged her to take me out and she never let me. I was bullied for an entire year by this one girl and my mom never knew. But the again, she never really asked why I didn’t want to go back. All she would say was that I had started something, and needed to finish it through.
Yes, thats what I am afraid of…that I will just pressure them to finish when I really don’t know the real problem. My boys definitely do not communicate very well.
Great tips! We’ve gone through this a few times and found that some activities were simply not a good fit, while others just needed a little time. Thanks for sharing!
When I was in junior high my mom required me to write a paper as to why I should be able to quit piano (which I had taken since I was 7). My reasoning was that I now played the saxophone and needed more time to practice that 🙂 My kids are still quite young, they have never outright wanted to quit anything, but when I notice they are becoming anxious or have stomach aches constantly, I know it is time to take a step back.
DANI CC says
What a great post. We don’t have children but I do remember when not enjoying an activity as a child, my parents let us decide what we wanted and didn’t want to do. Although extra church activities were always mandatory.
Amanda Love says
I don’t ever force my kids to do something that they don’t want to do, or aren’t interested in doing any more. While it’s good to ask why they want to quit, once I get an answer, I usually let them do so. That’s just me though.
jill conyers says
This is a tough situation. It’s finding that balance between learning a lesson and not pushing beyond a healthy point.
Amber Nelson says
Sometimes the kids just need a break to regroup. It can definitely be too much for kids sometimes. My daughter has been in basketball since 1st grade and now in 8th grade isn’t sure if she will go out next year.
My mom should have read this when we were younger LOL! Great tips, as a kid that did everything I hope I can read the signs on my own kids.
Greg @ Uniform Store says
I was an athlete myself in H.S. and still love football. I think we as parents should be a role model to our kids. My 7-year old son is now passionate about soccer and I fully support his decision.