There are many phrases that quickly send even the calmest of parents into a frenzy. “I want to quit” ranks up there for many of us.
It doesn’t matter how old they are, the scenario runs pretty much the same. They go to practice or the game or match and are a little sullen after. Typically on the ride home (sometimes mid-event for the little ones), they say the dreaded words. Your pulse and mind start racing. Panic over the investment you’ll lose and dreading what to do with all that extra energy come quickly into play. What should you say? Do you really let them quit?
Yes. And no.
Yes, you should not force your child to participate in an activity they truly aren’t interested in. But that doesn’t mean that as soon as they utter the request you withdraw them or simply say “OK.”
First, make sure you know where the request is coming from. Did they simply have a bad day? Did something happen at practice? Are they maybe just not ready for that particular activity? Or has quitting truly been on their mind for some time?
If after discussion, they have you convinced that quitting really is right for them, do two things:
1 – Finish what you start. Even individual sports are team efforts. There’s a coach, a facility and, likely other athletes, that still rely on the athlete in some way. Team sports should go without saying: Your child is a member of that team and they should honor that commitment. Athletics are about so much more than physical feats alone and not quitting mid-project or mid-commitment is important of anyone’s character throughout life.
2 – Quitting this doesn’t mean couch-potato-ing is approved. That particular activity may not be the right fit, and that’s ok. But make sure that they replace the dropped sport with something new. Find out why they want to quit and then try to pair them with a new activity that fits their personality and interests and, ideally, offers potential to overcome the flaw with the current activity. Not every sport is right for every person – but odds are that there’s something out there that your child will love; the challenge is finding it.
Truth be told, there is something to the old adage, “quitters never win and winners never quit,” but it isn’t quite so black and white. In the grey space lies the option to continue on with something else – and that’s ok! Just make sure any outstanding commitments are fulfilled first.