Are We There Yet?

Quitting

It’s a message we often hear from others and also impart to our kids: If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.

Giving up is just something we’re not supposed to do.

Sometimes, however, I wonder if some things are just not meant to be, no matter how hard we try. Is it possible that because of our determination to stick to something – a sport, a hobby, a job, perhaps a relationship – do we end up missing out on other opportunities?

How do we know when to keep our noses to the grindstone or when it’s appropriate to stop and try an alternative approach or perhaps something completely different?

Los Angeles Times staff writer Lisa Boone wrote about this dilemma in a column, “When is it OK to let kids be quitters?” She cited a 2005 statistic from the Citizenship Through Sports Alliance, which found in 2005 that 70 percent of youth stop playing sports by the time they’re 14.

Boone wrote about her 8-year-old son, Bob, who had begged to play tackle football. But the practices were too intense and the coaching less than stellar that just before the season ended, her son expressed his desire to leave the team.

So she interviewed several experts, including Billy Strean, professor at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation. Strean told her that kids often quit at a young age because sports have become too competitive and organized. Instead of focusing on fun and team-building, it’s all about winning, he said.

Moms, dads and other guardians need to ask themselves why they signed up their children for a particular activity in the first place. If that goal isn’t met, then perhaps it’s not worth sticking it out.

At the same time, parents need to stress the importance of commitment, other experts pointed out. It’s impossible to be good at everything or even be the best in just one sport or activity. Children shouldn’t expect that they will always come home with a medal or trophy.

In some cases, it’s the parents who put too much pressure on the child, Betsy Braun, author of the new book "You're Not the Boss of Me: Brat Proofing Your 4 to 12 Year Old Child,” told the LA Times. Kids are asked to commit to a number of activities and sports at such a young age, she noted. Parents want to give them as many options as possible, but sometimes, this leads to too much pressure.

“Refining their skills does not speak to the joy and relaxation that makes us people," Braun said. "It makes for a burned-out, deluded kid."

Have you ever let your child quit a sport or activity? How do you teach your child the values if consistency and commitment while at the same time knowing when it's healthier to stop and try something else?




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This blog is intended to provide a forum for parents to share knowledge and resources. It's a place for parents young and old to combine their experiences raising families into a collective whole to help others.





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