3 Things to Ask Yourself When Your Child Wants to Quit Something
How do you decide when to let your child quit and when to make them “stick to their commitment”?
It’s a common question without a definite answer.
However, I’d like to give you three things to think about when it comes to teaching your child the importance of perseverance.
#1 Does your child have a lack of responsibility for themselves?
How much responsibility does your child have for themselves? How much say do they have in their daily life? How many decisions are they allowed to make for themselves?
First, if your child doesn’t have any decision making power, they will always be fighting for it. If they are trying to gain independence and control over their lives, it can be hard to root out how they are feeling about something and what is important to them.
For instance, a child may stop doing homework just because it’s something within their control. We could think of a million “excuses” they are not doing homework (lazy, forgetful, needs extra help, etc.) and ultimately overlook the simple need for some control.
I know that sounds dramatic, but think about how you would feel if someone decided everything for you (what you eat for every meal, what clothes you can wear, what time you wake up and go to bed, how much TV you can watch, when you have to turn the light out and stop reading, how quickly you need to get out of the door in the morning).
I’m not saying you shouldn’t have routines or rules. What I am saying is, the more input you allow your kids to have about these routines and rules the more empowered they will feel about their life.
Second, if a child feels responsible for themselves, they can understand their responsibility to a bigger picture. If they have a sense of control over their life they can understand how their actions impact a team for example or even their future.
If your child wants to quit soccer, there are many reasons you can give them why that’s not okay. “I paid a lot of money for it.” “You need to honor your commitment.” “The team is counting on you.” But they can’t rationalize those reasons if they feel like they have no say in their life.
They have to feel like what they decide matters. And sometimes that means giving them a choice to quit….
#2 What expectations do you have about your child and what expectations do they have of themselves?
Our expectations can help push us to grow but can also cripple us.
First of all, expectations can cause a fear of failure. Sometimes this looks like perfectionism and sometimes just not trying at all.
Secondly, if we feel like we have no say in a situation or we feel like we will never measure up, learned helplessness kicks in.
To instill the importance of perseverance, you should encourage effort rather than skill. You should focus on the process instead of the result. Help your child break free from a thinking loop such as “never being good enough” by giving concrete examples of small successes.
If your child doesn’t want to participate in the class play, find out what thoughts they are having before trying to problem solve. Really listen.
We can only indeed help our child once we have heard them.
What faulty thinking are they struggling to overcome? What expectations do they have of themselves? What evidence are they presenting and is there another side to it?
#3 Does your child really hate this activity or do they need to reframe it as a challenge?
I talked about this in a post about helping your child build resilience, and learning to persevere is a huge part of being resilient.
If your child is truly unhappy in an activity and it’s not mandatory, are you making it mandatory to teach them a lesson? Is that lesson going to resonate if they hate every minute of it? Is there another way they could learn that lesson?
Or, is your child just extraordinarily uncomfortable and pushed outside of their comfort zone? Is this just an obstacle that you know they can overcome with some extra support?
It’s important to allow children to try different things and NOT like them. But it’s equally important to lift your child up and support them through things that are difficult.
When a child experiences anxiety or panic attacks, one of the most important things they can do is learn to move through those feelings and learn that they can get to the other side.
As a child with extreme anxiety, there were so many times I was forced out of my comfort zone and felt better about myself after going through it. Such as going to band competitions. I was petrified. I wanted to throw up. But I loved playing music. So I moved through it.
But there were other times that I genuinely hated something. Like summer camp. I went one year, and that was enough for me. It was torture. When the next year rolled around, I begged my parents not to make me go, and it wasn’t until we were at the camp and I refused to get out of the car that my parents finally gave in.
My brother and sister were out of the car and ready to go, but for me, I had to dig my heels in to be heard.
Know your child. Hear them.
Once you hear them, you will understand whether this is something they hate or if it’s something they need extra support to get through.
If they need help reframing this as a challenge, I have a free workbook attached to this post on resilience you can download.
So there you have it! The next time your child wants to quit something take time to ask yourself these questions before coming up with a response.
Does my child have a lack of responsibility for themselves?
What expectations do I have about my child and what expectations do they have of themselves?
Does my child hate this activity or do they need to reframe it as a challenge?
Join me on facebook to talk about the challenges you are facing as a parent and to get some insight and support along the way!