The Tiger Mother Debate: Should Kids Be Allowed to Quit?
Yes, Childhood Is for Exploration.
There could be several reasons a new activity fires up a child’s imagination. Their best friend may be doing it. Some adult made it sound irresistibly cool. Love is love but sometimes infatuation turns to contempt. Should a child be permitted to quit an activity (s)he’s committed to? Yes!
My daughter, at age 8, dropped violin after 3 months. She was relieved and we were grateful! That said, quitting deserves thoughtful consideration and parents need to explore the reasons. So talk about it calmly and find out what’s going on before a final decision is made. Maybe the adult in charge isn’t supportive. Perhaps a kid in the group is giving your kid a hard time. Maybe your child’s expectations for proficiency don’t match the reality of the work required.
If whatever is causing the cooling off can be addressed then “I quit!” may turn into “OK, I’ll give it another try.” But if the core issue is “This just isn’t for me, Mom” then please, respect that! Do NOT make the child feel like a “quitter.” Applaud his/her honesty and remind them that childhood is for exploration. Some things are a perfect fit for you and some aren’t. That’s good to know.
No! Perseverance Is Important.
Children often give up quickly when success isn’t easy or immediate. This is because learning to push through frustration to find success can be a tough fought battle. However, if you allow your child to give in to uncomfortable feelings that make him want to quit, you communicate that that hard work and perseverance aren’t important. In fact, by not pushing your child, you deny him the opportunity to learn to cope with frustration, and eventually he will stop trying at anything.
By allowing your child to give up, you also communicate that you don’t believe she is capable of succeeding. Therefore, if you allow your child to quit, she will never learn how to manage frustration and she will become a quitter.
There are exceptions (like a verbally abusive teacher), but in general, you should require your child to see an activity through to the end (finish the season; complete the school year). At a natural conclusion, you can decide whether it is in your child’s best interest to allow him to move to another activity, or whether pushing him to persevere (despite protest) is warranted.
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