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Phoenix Forward magazine

5 things to do before letting your child quit

Quitting children’s activities

Now that you’ve plunked down the requisite cash to register your daughter for ballet lessons and bought the tights, leotard and ballet slippers, she never seems to want to go. In fact, most weeks she says quitting is her preferred option, and you literally drag her out the door.

Does this sound familiar? If so, you may wonder what to do. Here are five ways to handle the situation when your child wants to stop an after-school activity mid-session:

1

Find out the reason.

It’s important to get to the bottom of why your child wants out. If an explanation isn’t forthcoming, talk to other parents to see if they have any information to help you learn what’s going on, suggests Kasey Magnuson, a licensed therapist and instructor in the psychology program at the University of Phoenix West Michigan Campus.

It could be that your child is having problems with a coach or instructor, or perhaps a bully. Once you know more details, you’ll be able to decide if you can do something to improve your child’s experience or whether the activity is just not a good fit.

2

Consider scaling back.

Ask yourself whether your child’s complaints of being worn out are valid. Are your kids involved in activities that require many hours or involve extremely competitive play? If so, it might be worth it for them to take part on a more casual level. Perhaps they’d enjoy the activities more, Magnuson says, if they participated less often and under less stress.

3

Determine who cares about the activity.

If your child simply doesn’t want to take part in the activity, and you get upset, ask yourself if it’s really you who’s interested in the game or class. If that’s the case, Magnuson points out, it’s probably not the right pursuit, and it’s wise to let your child quit.

You may wonder if allowing your kid to quit once will set a precedent for the future. But if a child really doesn’t want to participate in an activity, it’s best to honor that sentiment.

4

Provide other ways to improve.

Some children feel pressured about performing in front of peers. Magnuson suggests finding a way to have them practice a sport or activity away from others, so they can improve or at least begin to feel more comfortable.

Taking kids to a batting cage or allowing them to practice a dance routine at home, for example, can help. “Once a child is confident about mastering a skill,” she says, “they can begin to let go and have fun.”

5

Make a verbal contract in advance.

To help avoid this scenario, parents and children should agree to extracurricular activities before kids sign up. Take your child to watch activities of interest to help develop a sense of whether your child will enjoy participating.

Children under age 9 may have no idea what is required. “Sit them down ahead of time,” Magnuson says, “and show them a calendar with the days and hours they will be playing.”

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