Should we encourage our kids to continue with the activity even if they don’t like going, hoping they will start to love it?
It is one of the things us parents dread. But one we will most likely experience. Your little one wants to do all the activities their friends are doing and are showing real enthusiasm for EVERYTHING.
You do the trial, the promise they will stick at it. You buy the gear, the equipment and pay the fees. A few months in you get “I don’t want to do it, Mum”. And breathe….
What’s a parent to do?
Should we encourage our kids to continue with the activity even if they don’t like going, hoping they will start to love it? Or at least complain a little less?
Do we force our child to stick it out until the end of the term? If we do allow them to quit, what will it teach them about perseverance and commitment?
And what about the investment we’ve made? Fees, equipment and the time and effort we have spent to get them there?
Ultimately you need to listen to your gut. You know if your child is really enjoying something or if they are genuinely unhappy. You also need to do what is best for your family. If you have younger children, you can't bring their older sibling to an activity kicking and screaming every week. It’s just not possible physically or emotionally. (Believe me!)
Here are some helpful tips if your child wants to quit that activity they begged you to do!
- Don’t force a specific activity. Instead, encourage your child to be involved in one activity per year or season. It can be anything that will engage their interests and broaden their horizons.
- Explain that they asked to start the activity, so they need to finish it. This encourages children to think about their choices and provides a sense of accomplishment if they stick it out.
- Don’t try to live vicariously through your child. Just because YOU loved football as a teenager doesn’t mean your child will too.
- What’s going on under the surface? Is your child afraid he won’t be good enough or that he’ll disappoint you? Is she being bullied by teammates? Sometimes a child’s reason for wanting to quit has nothing to do with the activity itself.
- Let your child take a break. At this stage of their life, they shouldn’t have any worries. Let them take a break and see how they feel. It is their body, their time and their energy after all.
- If finances permit, give your child the opportunity to try a variety of sports and activities as possible, to see what really appeals to them.
- If your child asks to quit something mid-term, don’t rush the decision to give it up. Have them give it a couple more weeks to help determine whether your child is just in a slump OR if they truly don’t enjoy the activity anymore.
- Most importantly, trust your child and yourself. Chances are, if you take the time to talk together about it and really listen, you’ll recognize the difference between a child wanting to quit for the right reasons, and quitting just because they can.
Laura Doyle, Mum of 4. Kyle 9, Noa Belle 4, Briar 2 and Milla 12 months. Breastfeeder, co-sleeper, coffee drinker. Staying positive and inspired by the chaos of it all. Follow her on Instagram.