Monday, April 2, 2012

When Your Kid Wants To Quit

I normally hate when someone calls their child their "kid."

I don't know why.

Joe has always been adamant that when our kids started something--soccer, football, dance, baseball, etc--they would not be allowed to quit (barring injury or some other major reason) because he wanted to teach them the value of commitment and follow-through.

I agreed.

Almost 7 years and 5 (almost 6) kids later, we have dealt with many break-ups already. First, our 4 year old daughter E "quit" preschool.

That's right. We were so proud to have a preschool dropout.

She stopped attending for about a week. I talked with her teacher, talked with E, talked with the Director, talked with Joe, talked to myself, talked to E some more....and then I thought I'd found the root problem and got to the bottom of it.

E's teacher called and spoke with her on the phone. E decided to go back and has since addressed the reason why she wanted to quit. All is well.

More recently, she was taking dance and gymnastics classes. She, unfortunately for her, shares my fear of heights and--well, physical activity-- so she announced she no longer wants to go back to class. She's afraid of flipping on the high bar and on the balance beam. No matter how much I assured her that her teachers would be right there spotting her the entire time, she didn't seem interested. She was genuinely afraid. So, Joe and I talked and decided not to force her to do something that obviously scared her.

Last night, her brothers (R-6 yrs and L-5 yrs) announced they no longer want to go to karate.


What?? They LOVED karate! It's an hour of fun and flips and running and more fun.

I don't get it.

Joe and I looked at each other like "How did we breed these kids who want to quit everything??"

What do we do now?

Do we force them to do an activity they no longer like just to teach commitment or do we take into consideration that they have been doing this for months, they are probably tired from full days at school every day, soccer just started, and the drive to get to karate is 30-40 minutes one way?

Believe me...I am not complaining if I no longer have to break my neck to get all 5 kids to class twice a week, then race home, eat dinner, do homework, get ready for bed and do it all on time. In fact, a large part of me was cheering when they said they didn't want to go again.

But...I don't want to set the precedent that they don't have to finish what they start. Especially when money is involved and they could potentially be burning hundreds of dollars up with nothing to show for it.

So...what's the answer? At what point do you listen to your kids and allow them the break of "quitting"? When do you think it is necessary to press on and make them see it through?
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