Kids (4-12)

10 Things to Keep in Mind Before You Let Your Children Quit

Life is difficult. It’s a given! We’re born, we open our eyes, dad misinterprets our cry, mom puts the diaper on too tight, someone else drops our pacifier – and it begins.

But this is how life works. Challenge is built into the equation; learning requires patience; problem solving is a key element to fulfillment; obstacles come our way every day.  World leader Winston Churchill gave a speech at his old school in the darkest days of WW2; he’d had a miserable time there and was considered a failure. He walked to the podium and surveyed the crowd of awe-struck students. “This is the lesson,” he said. “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never – in nothing, great or small – never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense….”

But we also live in this world of entitlement: “‘I deserve this.” “I want mine now!” “Children should have everything they want.” “It’s my responsibility to make my kids happy.” “Satisfy me now!”

But, and experience proves this every time, pretty much everything worthwhile comes at the price of investment. It’s not just that the reward is sweeter after the long haul.  It turns out that the process of getting from A to B is intrinsically worthwhile – regardless of the payoff at the end.  The key to success is perseverance.


However, there are times we and our children should quit something.  We do the math and realize the best option is to do something else.  But what are the guidelines?  Here are 10 worth thinking about:

  1. “Quitter” is a tough label to shake. Breaking a promise is a big deal; failing to follow through should never be brushed off. Quitting is never small potatoes.
  2. Tenacity is a strong word for life:Thomas Edison famously “failed” 10,000 times on his way to inventing the light bulb. What if he had simply quit along the way?
  3. This is a big life-lesson opportunity. If children don’t learn to follow through now, when they have our support, how will they become equipped to follow through as adults, when they must rely on what we taught them?
  4. Make sure we understand the entire story! It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about network news, witnesses to an accident, or kids – the principle’s the same: one source of information is never enough.
  5. Trust takes a long line of completions to build, but it only takes one broken promise to dismantle.
  6. Quitting on impulse is never the right choice. Have your child outline the problem and then explain exactly why they believe quitting is their #1 option.
  7. Kids usually quit for the wrong reason. Try to get at the bottom of why your kids want to quit.  “It’s not fun anymore” may be code for “kids make fun of me.”
  8. Challenging experiences invariably build character; the easy way out typically builds something else.  Want your children to be diamonds?  The only way is to have them take the pressure sometimes.
  9. The more often children quit before completing a task, the less likely they are to finish the next one.  Quitting, like perseverance, can quickly form a habit.  Challenge your children not to give up too easily.
  10. Sometimes your child needs to make a tough choice and walk away.Once in a while, quitting is simply the right thing to do. Maybe the coach is bad news; maybe your child really is overcommitted; maybe there are principles of character he or she cannot compromise. If this is the case, your child needs your support and your help to make a gracious exit.

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