I come from a family of eight children and I'm number seven ... and we all had to learn how to play the piano. Growing up, I watched all my siblings play the piano and I started begging my mom to let me take lessons. She usually waited until we were a bit older than I was at the time, but she let me start earlier (because of my begging).
But then, just a couple of weeks later, I wanted to quit. I hadn't realized how much work it was going to be to learn to play the piano.
My parents kept pushing me to keep playing the piano. And fifteen years later I'm glad that my parents didn't let me give up on piano lessons. It didn't appreciate it at the time, but I do now.
We all want our children to succeed. We want them to be happy with their choices and the life they are living. And part of enjoying life is learning new skills (like sports and how to plan an instrument).
However, the problem with signing your kids up for things comes when they don't want to participate in the event anymore. If your child is like most, there will be some points where they just want to give up and quit. Sometimes they can be easily persuaded to continue, but other times there are hours of arguing and dragging your hesitant child to lessons or practice.
If that sounds familiar, here are three questions to ask yourself first before letting your child quit:
1. Are they quitting out of fear?
Sometimes children get anxious or scared about trying new things, which is totally normal. However, we need to teach our children to overcome their fear of trying new things.
If they want to quit simply because they are scared of the task ahead, talk to them. Work on calming their fears. Tell them that you support them trying new things, understand that they are worried and reassure them so they know you are proud when they conquer their fears.
Don't ever let your child think they have to do it alone. Let your child know that you are there supporting them, and see them flourish.
2. Are they feeling overwhelmed?
Sometimes, we want to fill their day up with multiple activities and before you know it, your child has no room for friends, family or time to just be a kid. Unfortunately, pushing children to play every sport, master every instrument and still stay after school to be a part of a club is all too common. If your child comes to you and says they want to quit, see if they are feeling overwhelmed.
Together, plan how to prioritize their time and activities. You can talk to your child about what activities they love the most and which activities they want to stop - involve them in the decision making process and teach your child how to have control over her schedule. It'll be a life lesson taught early on, and one she'll use for years to come.
3. Do they feel safe?
Maybe your child doesn't want to go a lesson because they are being bullied. Even if your child doesn't want to quit, ask them if they are uncomfortable or don't feel safe. Look for signs like changes in behavior, talking less, eating less or complaining of frequent stomach aches that get them out of karate class.
Ask your child if they felt safe - Did anyone try to hurt them at class? Reassure her that you are listening and that you will protect them from further harm if they talk to you.
As you observe and talk to your child you can get to the bottom of the situation. Never force a child to be anywhere that they feel unsafe. Let your child know that you love them and you want them to feel safe.
Children will talk to you about why they want to stop an activity if you're willing to listen. Let them know you care about what they are thinking and feeling. This will not only create a deep bond between you and your child, but will also help them become an amazing adult.