As loving parents we want what’s best for our children. Our children seem to try to get in the way of that whenever they can — if it was up to our kids, school would be cancelled and we’d have ice cream and candy for dinner every night. Learning and nutrition are both vital to raising a smart, healthy child with the tools to get ahead in the world — it just seems hopeless to convince our kids that.
If you’re raising an active child they’ve undoubtedly started pursuing extracurricular sports, either through school or with independent clubs. These activities can help to teach teamwork, physical coordination, exercise habits and life skills as your children interact and compete with their peers in environments outside of their home and school. At some point, it’s almost inevitable that your children will complain about these activities and try to convince you to let them quit. This is normal. Just like if your child asks for ice cream for dinner, it’s important to have a conversation to understand your child’s reasoning and then provide an explanation for your decision.
There are a number of very good reasons for a child to want to quit a sports program. Maybe your kid was born on the unfortunate side of an imaginary line and he’s still too young to play with the kids in his division — or maybe he’s too old and he’s having trouble relating to his peers. Maybe he’s too good to be stuck in the beginner class or he’s not good enough to be in the intermediate one. Whatever the reason your child presents, first make sure you understand it by repeating it back to them, then present a solution. In many cases, the best step is to contact the coach and ask how your child is doing. If they have the same concerns as your kid you might want to consider moving to a different team or class to better fit your child. If coach says everything’s fine, the next thing to do is to closely observe a class or practice and see how much of what your child is telling you is true. If the issue fails to manifest, you should encourage your child to continue with the program and perhaps offer a compromise — maybe you’ll practice with your child more at home and take them out to their favorite restaurant if their team wins the championship, for example, or maybe if your child finishes this season of their current sport, next season they can play whichever one they want instead.
In many cases, kids are just bad at weighting short term investment versus long term benefits and will get a lot more out of their continued involvement in sports programs than they would out of quitting. As a parent it’s your responsibility to make these decisions. It’s important that your child feels comfortable bringing issues to you, however, and this is an excellent opportunity to prove to your kids that you are on their side and take them seriously. Understanding the root of your child’s issue, investigating it, and then returning to them with a solution, compromise or explanation can help foster excellent communication between you and your kids that will make the coming years infinitely more bearable.