WWYD when your dc wants to QUIT something? - Mothering Forums

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Old 06-04-2008, 12:46 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Just wondering how you handle their choice in quitting a class, program or sport they were interested in becoming involved in? My ds is still young, 3.5, but when I was 5 I quit kindergarten and it was a downhill spiral from there. My parents let me quit anything I didn't want to do. I am an adult now, and make my own choices, but always pretty much opt for the easy way out I don't want my ds to feel like he can just give up when things get too hard. It's a very weighing emotional burden - I know.

I need the guidance of you wise mamas to help me figure out how to handle this without having my own insecurities clouding my judgment. I want him to be happy doing things he likes and not force him to do things he doesn't. But, where and when do you draw the line?
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Old 06-04-2008, 01:03 AM
 
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For me, it would depend on their reason, I think. If they're feeling uncomfortable or unsafe in the situation, I'd let them quit. If it's 'too hard', whatever it is, I'd try to find ways around that first. If they didn't like it? I don't think you can predict beforehand what a child will or won't like, so our rule (DH's and mine, DD1 vaguely knows about it) is that you have to try something X number of times - depends on the activity - before you can give it up. Sometimes they want something and it isn't what they expected but they may still enjoy it once they've got over that.

I too have a history of taking the easy way out and I don't want that for my girls. I don't want to pressure them into anything either (we homeschool - my dd1, who hates maths, doesn't know she's learning maths every day!) - who wants unhappy kids? I don't know exactly where that balance is either, mama.

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Old 06-04-2008, 01:05 AM
 
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Mostly here to lurk this thread.

I *think* my policy will be that, unless there's a really good reason, you don't quit something until the "term" is up. Like if we signed up for 6 weeks of dance classes, you need to finish the 6 weeks, then we can re-evaluate. I wouldn't sign a little kid up for something that lasts longer than about that unless they had already done it and were totally committed. I think kids sometimes need to be encouraged to finish what they start, but they also need to be free to experiment with different things, not feel like they are "locked in" for life for trying something they aren't sure they will like.

We haven't had this come up yet. I'm really interested to hear the philosophies.

"If you only knew how many things I want to say and don't, you'd give me some credit."
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Old 06-04-2008, 01:25 AM
 
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It depends on the reason.

My mom wouldn't let us quit anything but my sister to guitar and they let her quit because the teacher was horrible. They ate the money. I would do the same for my child.

I could see making my child finish out the season. Or offering trying a new group to do an activity with.
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Old 06-04-2008, 02:16 AM
 
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I'm having this issue, and it's really bugging me. In our case, I think it is because DD is just not comfortable yet in a class without me. I try REALLY hard to keep her going, and when I hit a brick wall, stop. I told her that we would try one more time, but if it didn't work out, I wouldn't sign her up for another for a while, because she needed a bit more time. At 3, there seem to be few parent/kid classes.
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Old 06-04-2008, 03:25 AM
 
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I'm in the it depends on why camp too. I also think it depends on how long the activity lasts for younger ones.

This year, we signed up the kids for Y swimming. The classes started in April and run on a 4 week cycle (we're doing once a week for 4 weeks.) Because ds is 3, we first signed him up for the same 3-5 yo swim group as 4 yo dd. While dd is perfectly fine being in the water without us, ds was not.

So we switched him over to the parent and me group which goes (technically) until they are 36 months. I say technically because at almost 38 months, we're still enrolled in the parent and me class. He's just not ready to be on his own and they are fine with that.

As for dd, there's things she is learning that if I were to ask her, "Do you want to come back next week?," she'd quickly say no. For instance, her first time putting her head under water. So instead I focus on the positive of her achievement for the week -- that she tried something new. I bet it was scary, but that she must have felt very proud to have done it, etc. During the week, she asks how many days until her next swim class. When we miss swim class (they were sick a week,) she asks when is class and why didn't we go.

I knew she could easily last the 4 weeks, but that ds would not. I'd now like to expose dd to other activities, but she's content with swimming for now.
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Old 06-04-2008, 03:33 AM
 
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I too am in the "it depends upon the situation" category.

My DD's signed up for soccer - they begged and begged me to play. I let them play and a couple times things didn't go their way. They wanted to quit and I would not let them. We talked about committment to the coach, the team etc... Now, if they wanted to quit because they were constantly getting hurt or the coach or other players were bullies or some other good reason, I would let them quit.
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Old 06-04-2008, 02:06 PM
 
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My kid knows that she hires and fires her teachers.

She signs up for things that she actually wants to do/learn. She asked a friend's mom to teach her to knit and swapped making dinner for that family once a week until she got where she wanted to be for now.

She hung in with a soccer coach past the point I'd have quit because he was a lousy teacher with an anger problem. She gave him every chance, then quit the team.

It might be that if I or my kids were fickle sorts I'd feel differently, but we're learners, commitment and participation oriented.

Honestly, I wish more moms would let their kids quit activities that don't engage them because they tend to disrupt the actual learning and fun for the folks who *do* want to be involved. But I understand a little better now where some of those moms might be coming from.
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Old 06-04-2008, 03:11 PM
 
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Honestly, I wish more moms would let their kids quit activities that don't engage them because they tend to disrupt the actual learning and fun for the folks who *do* want to be involved. But I understand a little better now where some of those moms might be coming from.
My guess is that many of these kids didn't choose the activity in the first place - I see so many kids placed in activities because their parents feel it would be good for them, not because the child has expressed any interest in it. I agree that the kids who are not engaged are disruptive and take away from other's experience. I wish more parents could let go of their "more is better" philosophy when it comes to their kids' activities.

Our philosophy is that we choose just a couple activities (allowing for plenty of open-ended time outside of the scheduled activities), and we commit to the things we've chosen. Unless there were something really damaging, we'll stick to the activity until the term is up and then the kids can reevaluate about whether they want to sign on next time around. So far, it has worked well for us.
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Old 06-04-2008, 03:26 PM
 
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Quitting activities is no big deal to me at such a young age. At home I don't have any problem switching from one game or activity to another, so I try not to get bent out of shape by, say, dropping art class for gymnastics, just because it costs money. That said, these are usually pretty cheap classes that I've paid for - not very expensive art schools or dance studios I'm talking about.

I generally have the rule that you can't quit on the day of.... because that tends to just reinforce the transition problems that she has. If, afterward, she wants to quit, then we'll quit. This is only rarely the case - usually she goes and enjoys it and wants to keep doing it. Then I know it was that she had trouble switching from one activity to another. I will be a little more persuasive if I think it's sojmething she needs to learn (like swimming), or there is a dance recital that the group is counting on her for in a week.

Quitting kindergarten (or school) would be a whole nuther ball of wax. I wouldn't do that unless I knew all the reasons why and agreed it was best. I'd rather work on dealing with the problems/issues she's having with Kindergarten.

Once she's older, I'll have her work on making her own commitments and following through as appropriate. I recommend saving the really expensive lessons and studios for when the kid is a bit older and can take more responsibility for learning, practice and attendance - mainly to avoid parental pressure to finish bcs it costs so much money....
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Old 06-04-2008, 03:28 PM
 
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Once my children commit to something, they fulfill their commitment.

Unless safty or health is at stake.

Mama to 9 so far:Mother of Joey (20), Dominick (13), Abigail (11), Angelo (8), Mylee (6), Delainey (3), Colton (2) and Baby 8 and Baby 9 coming sometime in July 2013.   If evolution were true, mothers would have three arms!

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Old 06-04-2008, 03:48 PM
 
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My son (age 4.5) just "quit" swimming lessons at the Y. Kind of a drag because we lose a little money on it but whatever. The teacher had changed from his previous set of classes and after several sessions he was not having fun. And it wasn't even something he requested in the first place, I just wanted him to learn to swim. This past Monday night he was adamant that he did not want to go. I thought he was just tired or not really in the mood, and that he'd have fun once he got there. But it became pretty clear after discussion that he did not want to have class with this particular teacher again. So, we dropped it. DH was not thrilled at first but my thinking was you know, I "forced" him to get an IV when he was gravely ill and needed to be rehydrated. I have "forced" him to go to preschool on days he did not want to but I had to go to work. I am not going to force him to go to an elective activity that is supposed to be fun.

I would feel differently if he were older and it was an activity he had requested but still, if he made a good case for not continuing, I'd consider his POV.
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Old 06-04-2008, 04:20 PM
 
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A little bit OT:

Am I nuts to think that if it is a bad teacher issue, the Y would let you repeat the class with a different teacher or apply the money to a different class?

If it is an individual doing classes, like a guy teaching guitar, I can see where you'd just have to eat the loss if you turned out not to like the guy. But if it is an institution that uses many different teachers, I just don't see why they wouldn't work with you if you turned out not to like the teacher.

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Old 06-04-2008, 04:34 PM
 
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My boys are older (8 and 6) but if they ask to do something and I sign them up, they are expected to complete the term. If they don't want to participate physically, they can still go and learn by sitting and watching. I learned that at Aikido when ds1 was about 4. He loved it then went through a phase of just wanting to say no. Sensei was awesome in simply letting him sit and learn through watching instead of completely quitting. And nothing encourages participation like watching everyone else have fun.

We've carried that lesson with us. If they are enrolled they will attend (unless they are sick). They can choose how they participate (physically or visually). If they choose to just sit there (which was very rare and has been a long time) they still came home talking about it, the rules, the maneuvers, what other kids had done correctly or incorrectly.

If they did have to drop out for some reason I don't think I'd let them choose something else right away, at least until the season was over for the sport or activity they had originally asked to be in.
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Old 06-04-2008, 04:43 PM
 
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My DS1 (8yrs old) often wants to quit things when he is upset - I try to uncover the specific problem, without saying yes or no to the quitting idea until we have talked more, at a time that's less emotionally-laden than going to/coming from the event. If the event is going on that moment (e.g. soccer practice) he can sit by me and watch his teammates, but we are not leaving until it's over. I also tell him he has to tell his coach that he's going to sit out - often that conversation is enough to get him started participating again. If he doesn't want to sign up for that activity again next time it's generally his choice, but we will go to the events we committed to go to.

Quitting is DS' idea of how to solve a problem, but I usually think there's a better solution if we can figure out what the underlying unmet need is. Open questions help - "What are two things you don't like about it? Is there part of it you do like? If we changed [insert specific complaint here] then would you like it?" Obviously if he is being harmed in some way I would make some immediate change, but even then it might mean making a specific plan with the adult(s) involved rather than quitting right off the bat. If it seems to me he is really not ready for the offered set-up we sit out until another season. When he got too old for me to be in the swim lesson with him at the Y, he took two years off from swim lessons and then started again. If he really is not being served (lousy teacher, wrong difficulty level) I chalk it up as my own mistake and either try to fix it or eat the cost.

My take on this comes partly from knowing my son - that he jumps quickly to the first solution he thinks of, and that he makes better decisions for himself when the anxiety is defused and he has more ideas to choose among - and partly from trying to counteract the consumer culture that cuts us off so insidiously from other human beings. When we "turn off" an activity because it has become boring or uncomfortable, we treat that activity like a TV show. That means we are treating ourselves like spectators, or consumers, rather than participants, or members. We are treating the other people involved as entertainment providers or co-spectators. Because I think our whole society pulls toward this extreme, I generally pull in the other direction. Also, my son is very capable in advocating for his self-determination needs, so I offer balance by advocating for his social needs (belonging, making a contribution, being known and appreciated, being trusted and trustworthy) and helping him find ways to succeed in these areas. "I'm bored" or "I just don't like it" often means one or more of these social needs is going unspoken and unmet.

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Old 06-04-2008, 05:21 PM
 
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Once my children commit to something, they fulfill their commitment.

Unless safty or health is at stake.
Same here. My oldest joined the Running Club at school. She also signed up for the Fun Run(which the Running Club is preparing for though not all kids in the Running Club are going in the Fun Run). She wanted to quit because the running was hard. They run for 2 minutes, walk for 2 & then do it for 22 minutes. I told her she made the committment & she had to follow through with it. If we hadn't paid for the Fun Run I would have let her drop out of that.

Any time my kids have said they wanted to quit something for the most part they have fun & participate when they're actually there.
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Old 06-04-2008, 06:03 PM
 
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My DD just wasn't ready for activites at 3.5. She loved the dance preschool class that she went to when she was 2-3 and so I thought great we'll sign her up for dance lessons. She wouldn't go in (we attended several classes and tried to get her to just give it a try but she refused). I tried tennis lessons in the summer (at age 4), she wouldn't leave my side to join the class. But a few months ago (older 4) we decided to give Karate a try, mainly because many of her friends from Montessori school go, having her best friend at the class helped tremendously in getting over that first hurdle but it was really hard for her. The first few classes after that were hard, but she now loves it. She often says things like 'I'll do that when I'm 6' - she wants to participate, but is afraid, but as she gets older she gets more confident and willing to try.

So, apart from my feelings on 'quitting', I really feel like at that age, they may just be too young to be ready for something like that. I would not focus on the 'quitting' aspect as much as focus on trying to find a way to ease into it better, or an activity which suits his comfort level better.

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Old 06-04-2008, 06:45 PM
 
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Like pps said: it depends on the situation and what other options there are. When we first signed ds up for "swim" lessons he was 3. He's tall, and wasn't afraid at all, so they put them in the group that was actually learning strokes. He hated it and I saw he wasn't ready for that, so I asked that they put him in the group that still mostly plays, and he loved it.
Later we were at a different pool, the teacher wasn't great, and there were several kids that were very scared and cried without parents or teacher interfering in a positive way. There were no other classes to move to, so I let him "drop out" but would still go to the pool and swim with him myself.

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Old 06-04-2008, 11:19 PM
 
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I will let children quit activities, but they may not get to do an activity of their choosing during that time. Mom may decide to go workout at that point if she's not needed to chauffer kids. I don't feel that my children need to give me a valid reason for not wanting to continue. Once the money is paid, I consider it gone and my time is usually more valuable than whatever fees are involved.
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Old 06-04-2008, 11:26 PM
 
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My son not quite 3.5 just quit swim team. Commitment is not an issue when you can't really conceptualize 5 weeks long. He did OK for the first week and the first meet and I am proud of him. I don't think there's anything wrong with quitting some things and certainly I will pull my kids from things I don't think is good for them.

Try soccer don't like it as a sport -- quit.

Try soccer, like it, play for 4 years, have run in with coach, quit instead of working on a solution to do what you love -- don't quit. Like that.

Kind of a waste to finish out a session when you know for sure you don't want to learn the skills.
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Old 06-05-2008, 12:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the suggestions!! I really like the idea of having him just sit, watch and absorb what is going on, even if he doesn't want to participate.

I appreciate all of the different views on how to handle it. It seems it is an issue at any age!? I just know that I will not pressure him to the point where his extreme anxiety kicks in and he will never want to try it again. That is the issue really, his extreme anxiety. Much like his mama

Thanks, mamas!!
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Old 06-05-2008, 01:13 PM
 
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Sounds like you already have the answers you need. I just want to add since your kids are really young, this is not an issue for all kids and it may not be for yours. When my dd was about 4 we had a summer of "trying things". She tried dance, T-ball, soccer, gymnastics, swimming, art (not all at once of course!). She did not like T-ball, soccer, or swimming so after a couple classes she stopped going. I never make her finish out a term. I don't consider this "quitting". This is trying something and discovering that it is not for you. She learned she likes dance and gymnastics, so that is what she does now. She has been participating in those since she was 4 years old and has never expressed any desire to quit, even one term when she did not like her teacher as well because she knows she likes the activity. We discussed it and talked about how we will get a different teacher next session. I never tried to get her to feel that she has made a commitment and needs to keep doing something she is not enjoying just to avoid being a "quitter". I don't know if it is because of that or in spite of it that I have never had a problem with her regarding "stick-to-itiveness" or wanting to quit after one hard class or anything.

P.S. I consider swimming one of those things everyone needs to know, so I taught her how to swim on my own (just basic doggy paddle) and then the next summer she was fine with swimming classes, so it is possible in certain situations to go back to an activity.

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Old 06-05-2008, 03:20 PM
 
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Thanks for all the suggestions!! I really like the idea of having him just sit, watch and absorb what is going on, even if he doesn't want to participate.

I appreciate all of the different views on how to handle it. It seems it is an issue at any age!? I just know that I will not pressure him to the point where his extreme anxiety kicks in and he will never want to try it again. That is the issue really, his extreme anxiety. Much like his mama

Thanks, mamas!!
It does get better as they get older, DD was just like that and she is much better now at 5, though still nervous. If you don't push them, but give them opportunities, they really do want to overcome their fears, but from a safe distance. Have you ever read Playful Parenting? He talks about fears a lot (since he's a play therapist and his job is often to help children with fear and anxiety) and I remember him talking about how kids want to go to the edge of their fear, they want to see it but stand in a safe place. This is often true physically, if they are afraid of the swings, they want to go close enough so they can feel the fear but still feel safe. I've seen this with my kids too with fears they have worked out like as a toddler DD being afraid of the vacuum, she didn't want it to just go away, she wanted to confront it, but on her terms in a way she felt safe doing so.

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Old 06-05-2008, 05:31 PM
 
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If dd is miserable going to something and it is an option to quit then I would have her stop going after trying it at least four or five times. We did this with tap lessons and her initial swimming lessons because she was miserable. If it seems like she has fun most days once she gets there but complains a bit about going then I would point out how much fun she is having and keep her in them. With school I don't view it as an optional thing because it isn't for us, she can't stay home alone. But if she was miserable in school and crying a lot I would look for reasons why and for a different schooling option.
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