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.
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.