My Daughter, The Quitter

My daughter, Moozles, is six years old. And in her short life, she has taken part in many clubs. There was Ballet for four months. Street Dance for three months. Ballet again for three months. Gymnastics for one year. But there seems to be one common denominator in the activities she has engaged in during the past two years. She has quit them all.

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When is it okay to quit? This is a dilemma that most parents must face. We all know how beneficial it is for children to engage in extra-curricular activities. And it can be terrific for children to be able to take part in many different activities. It is a great chance to find what you are good at, what you enjoy. But what if your child wants to quit the activity they had previously begged to join? How long is enough before you allow your child to quit? One month? Three months? One year?

I understand the importance of learning persistence, perseverance and commitment. If children are allowed to quit activity after activity, they might not learn the importance of steadfastness and dedication. Surely this will influence them later in life, quitting relationships and jobs at any sign of adversity. I certainly do not want to raise a quitter.

But I also think that children’s opinions and feelings should be taken into account. It is tough, especially when you are little, to judge which activities you will enjoy. The image of doing beautiful ballet dancing might not match up to the real life of practicing a plié and a jeté. I remember being made to continue with piano lessons, as a child, long after I wanted to quit. I do not regret quitting. I do regret that I never got to try dance classes or gymnastics. Maybe I would have wanted to quit those too. But I will never know as I was busy playing the violin and piano.

As parents, we are constantly bombarded with the ‘best way’ to raise our children. But I think it is important to understand your individual child, to examine what makes him/her happy. Sometimes our children are driven by fatigue, laziness, fear, lack of ability or just a lack of interest. We need to pay attention to our children, rather than expecting them to persevere.

Some children are lucky enough to find a beloved club or activity early on. Some children need longer to find the activity they really engage with. No one wants their child to be a quitter. But we all want our children to be happy. Sometimes, it is okay to quit.


28 thoughts on “My Daughter, The Quitter

  1. Our eldest has always been a quitter but the other 3 have all found something they enjoy and are happy to do it for the moment, but if and when the day comes that they want to quit, then I’m happy for them to do so. I’d rather them be happy than unhappy and being forced to do something they don’t want to x

  2. My daughter has been doing ballet since she was 3 and musical theater since she was 8. She’s now 11 and about to go to secondary school and has decided it’s time to move on and do something different. She’s going to start learning the harp and also follow her passion for books and writing. She writes like an adult and devours books so quickly no one in our family can keep up. This change has come from her and she explained it to me so eloquently and confidently that I couldn’t argue or disagree or even want to persuade her otherwise. Amazing. I think kids know what they want and if they don’t, it’s good to try out different things. For her, experience is knowledge – she will take with her all of the years of experience and dance training forward on to the next experience. She’ll always have that. And your daughter will always have her experiences too with which to build upon.

  3. My little munch did ballet for a year and a half and then one day? She was hysterical and didn’t want to go. This happened for three weeks in a row. And in the end I just had to stop her going even though I loved her in her little ballet outfit sob. Quitting is fine! As long as they aren’t quitting at school natch. I have laid off clubs now till she is a bit older. Miss you bab xxx

  4. We tried everything and anything when we were kids (piano, violin, dancing, drama, mime, SINGING lessons – I know you know my singing voice is testament to that…). I suppose unless they try things you won’t know what they like, or if there’s something they’re naturally good at? Having said that, I had an endless battle with my mum about piano practice (which I never did) and now I wish I had as would love to be able to play the piano…I wasn’t a natural though. It’s a tough one!

  5. Our eldest is a quitter too! She did karate for a while, then street dance, and gymnastics as well. I do think that at their age they do need to try out lots of different activities so I am not to bothered. But I suppose if she embarked on something now (She’s 11) I would make sure that she was sure she wanted to do it 🙂 x

  6. The hub and I often joke about how we would cry if H didn’t like the sports/activities we both love, but in reality, as long as he’s happy I really don’t mind. H HATED swimming with a passion and we stopped it, even though he was too little to tell us so. You’re so right, each child is different and we should trust our instincts for our own children x

  7. My six-year-old has also quit ballet, karate, piano and athletics, so I’ve pondered over the same question, but then on recommendation from other parents, decided not to make it another stress factor in our life. Perhaps that list reflects more my (and my generation of parents’) obsession with extra curricular activities and fear of not giving my child all the opportunities she deserves, than a six-year-old’s lack of commitment or direction. In an x-factor culture where we’re conditioned to see perseverance rewarded and romanticised , it’s easy to forget that quitting is also a skill: quitting dead-end jobs, unsatisfying careers, bad relationships… Just try to stick to hobbies that don’t require expensive equipment!

    1. That’s it, we need to teach our children when to quit as well. We don’t want them to stick with bad relationships and horrible jobs just because they weren’t raised to quit. Yes, we’re definitely staying away from expensive and big equipment!

  8. Great post, I agree, I too was made to stick at piano for way too long, and swimming – which I happened to be good at but had no interest in. What’s the point of pushing something they will drop the moment they get the chance? Much better to allow them to experiment and play at as many experiences as possible while they can and their minds and bodies are at their most agile. I’d much rather my children had a varied and interesting childhood that be bored senseless by something they have no interest in just for the sake of ‘sticking at it’.

  9. I love this post. My children are the same – football, ballet, Irish dancing, swimming etc. I think its hard for them to know what they like. I insist on one sport though – so both do gymnastics. I don’t mind them trying stuff but they must do at least one. Hard lady aren’t I! x

  10. Certainly better to quit than to waste time doing stuff you don’t like, well within reason, obv you need to go to school etc 😉
    We’ve not done any activities really yet, F can’t pay attention to anything so we just bike a lot! x

  11. Kayleigh took part in gymnastics for over a year and was actually becoming really good but she didn’t want to do it anymore (even though I really wanted her to continue) all she wants to do is play and have fun and for now she can whilst she’s growing up, but I would love for her to have a hobby!

  12. I think each family has to decide what is right for their child. For me, all four children had swimming lessons and continued them for varying lengths of time – my eldest had lessons for 6 years and, as well as being able to swim quite a distance, she is also a very elegant person to watch. My son, on the otherhand, was the only person I know who could swim all strokes underwater?! He didn’t enjoy it so much but in the end, with all four, the decision was that, once they could swim a safe distance, the choice was their own. When everything seems to cost so much nowadays, if my children decide to give up an activity, they have to continue it until the notice period is complete and then can stop – I don’t have enough money to pay for clubs they don’t want to be attending!

  13. This story sounds familiar! My daughters been to 3 different gymnastic clubs, cheerleading, mini modern dance, ballet, horse riding, judo, street dance, guides and netball. She never sticks at them for long! I just see it as a way as being active- as long as she’s doing something!!!

  14. This is a tricky one. I started playing the violin at the age of seven, sometimes loved it and sometimes really hated it. I wanted to quit many times but wasn’t allowed and was made to continue until I was about I was sixteen when I simply refused to go to classes. I remember having so many fights about this with my family but in the end, I am happy they made me do it. I got to an advanced level and learned all the techniques for independent learning. Those are skills that are almost impossible to pick up later in life. Now I can just pick up my violin and learn a new concerto. I think I would be more upset if they had allowed me to quit… But as said, it’s a really tricky one. If the child really hates his/her hobby and struggles with it from one month to another perhaps it’s best to quit. I also practiced ice skating for a while and always hated it. Thank god I was allowed to quit! I don’t regret that a bit!

  15. It is so difficult to find something you enjoy doing consistently when you are little. I remember how it was for me. I finally tried karate class and stuck with it. I hope she finds something she loves some day.

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