15 important things to consider when your child wants to quit an extracurricular activity.
There’s a situation that almost every parent dreads, but is certain to go through at one time or another. It’s when your child wants to quit an extracurricular activity that they asked to sign up for. If you haven’t been through it yet, be thankful, but be prepared… because it’s likely going to happen at some point.
It will go down a little something like this: your child will beg (or at the very least, show a keen interest) to join a sport or dance class or after-school club, but after a while, they’ll discover that they’re not enjoying it like they thought they would.
Or it could happen that you child will show real talent in a sport or activity, but they’re just not interested in signing up for a second season of it.
As parents, what should when our child wants to quit an extracurricular that you’ve paid for and commited to?
Should we encourage our kids to continue with the activity, hoping they’ll learn to love it?
Do we force our child to stick it out until the end of the season?
If we allow them to quit, what will it teach them about perseverance and commitment?
And what about the investment we’ve made: enrolment fees, equipment, and all of the other expenses that go along with structured extracurriculars.
These are questions that I’m asked often, so I recently polled the most experienced and diverse group of parents I know: my Facebook community.
I asked: What’s the best way to handle it when your child wants to quit an extracurricular activity?
Thanks to our amazing community of followers, we got some excellent advice and insight.
Keep in mind that what’s right for one family may not be right for another. Ultimately, you need to choose a solution that works best for you and your children.
What to Do When Your Child Wants To Quit
- Don’t force a specific sport or activity. Instead, encourage your child to be involved in one activity per year or season. It doesn’t have to be a sport; it can be an art club or drama group, or anything that will engage their interests and broaden their horizons.
- Explain that they asked to start the season, so they need to finish it. This encourages children to think through their choices and provides a sense of accomplishment in the end.
- Don’t try to live vicariously through your child. Just because you LOVED tennis as a teenager doesn’t mean your child will as well.
- What’s going on under the surface? Is your child afraid he won’t be good enough or that he’ll disappoint you? Is there a personality clash between your child and the coach? Is she being bullied by teammates? Sometimes a child’s reason for wanting to quit an extracurricular has nothing to do with the activity itself.
- Let your child take a break. At this stage of their life, there aren’t a lot of decisions over which they have autonomy. It’s okay to let this be one of them. It is their body, their time and their energy after all.
- If your child quits an activity and doesn’t want to sign up for another, brainstorm ways that he or she can volunteer and make a positive contribution the community in her spare time.
- Listen to your child. This will do more for your child than forcing her to stick with an activity. Being heard and respected by one’s parents goes a long way in building self-esteem.
- If finances permit, give your child the opportunity to dabble in a variety of sports and activities as possible, to see what really appeals to them. It’s easier for kids to do this with younger children, as kids’ school and work commitments and responsibilities increase as they get older.
- If your child asks to quit something mid-season, don’t rush the decision to give it up. Have them give it for 2 more weeks to help determine whether your child is just in a slump OR if they truly don’t enjoy the activity anymore.
- Find a less time-consuming activity. If being on a team means 3 practices a week and a game on Saturdays, your child might be happier with a once a week, hour-long gymnastics class. Remember, it’s important that she gets free time for riding bikes or reading a good book, and just being a kid.
- Don’t lose sight of the importance of passion, even in young children. As one dance coach noted, she had witnessed many children stay in dance LONG after the fun was gone. Just because you are good at something, doesn’t mean you have a passion for it. Let your child be the judge.
- It’s ok to let your child quit a sport or activity they loved, BUT be sure to ask them if they want to try again next season when sign-ups are happening. You may find that after a break, he is ready to join in again!
- Keep the focus off winning and your child’s performance. For a child who’s not competitive, or who fears letting you down, this can take all the fun out of an activity that they would normally enjoy.
- If a child is old enough to earn an allowance, and wants to quit an activity mid-season, it’s okay to ask them to reimburse you for a portion of the cost you invested. Depending on their allowance, a fair amount might be 10%.
- 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.