Dear Ashton: As a parent when do you decide that you’ll let your kids “quit” something? Something you know they’ll succeed in and love, but have to learn to deal with the initial pains of adversity or discomfort? How do you determine that something just isn’t for them, or that they need mental toughness and need to stick with it? My son started a new activity today and was excited to do it. But once he saw a certain kid was also involved, he says he lost interest and no longer wanted to do it. How do you determine the difference and when to really let them “quit” something? Is there ever a right time to let a child “quit”? Thanks!
– To Quit Or Not To Quit
Dear To Quit Or Not To Quit: When it comes to our children, we are always trying to do our best to bring out their best. Teaching them the lesson of ‘follow through’ is one of the best lessons we can teach our children to develop their character and skills. Whenever a child wants to quit an activity it is mostly due to unfounded fears. So, it is important to stir up their excitement by reminding them why they wanted to start in the first place. Also, telling them that we believe in them and know they can succeed will boost their confidence. Our support gives them the tools they need to overcome fear and resolve conflict. And we know these are tools they will need for the rest of their lives.
Though I promote ‘follow through’, it is also extremely important for parents to be investigators. Ask questions and watch situations closely to determine if it serious enough to require parental intervention. For example, find out more about the child that seemed to have such an impact on your son’s behavior. There could be something going on that requires parental involvement. Our children must know that we have their backs and will stand up for their best interests when necessary. The good thing is that most of the time these situations are the average teachable moments in a child’s life.
Based on what you have shared, and as long as there’s no serious issues with the other child, it seems that this could be a teachable moment for your son. Since you know he will have success and enjoy the activity once he overcomes the growing pains, help him stay the course. Even if it turns out to be something he doesn’t do again, he will still benefit from the learning experience!