Phew! We're not quitters--- we're "try-ers"

We had karate again today and Evan refused to get dressed or participate.  I didn't push it but I was disappointed.

I know he hasn't been happy since we switched karate schools but I had hoped he would give it a good long try before deciding it wasn't for him.  The older two boys also told me they weren't sure they wanted to continue either but would try for another couple of classes.

I couldn't help but question if I'm raising a bunch of quitters. 

I know I'm bad at making my kids stick with just about anything but I figure what they spend their time pursuing is up to them.

I truly believe that extra curricular activities should be fun.  Maybe not every single moment of every single class/ practice/ game, but overall the activities should be fun.

I should see my kids laughing, smiling and having fun.  If I don't see that even just half of the time than I know that it's time to let them quit.

I can't help but wonder if I'm teaching them to give up when it gets tough though.

So far (between the three boys) we've quit soccer, baseball, basketball, and trampoline...

It may not sound like much but those are pretty much the only sports and after school activities they've ever tried.

We do have some rules about quitting:

  • If it's a team sport they have to try and tough it out until the end of the season (the team is counting on them).  We have  made exceptions though.  There was the year we tried baseball for the first time and after the very first practice Ian told us he hated it and wanted to quit.  We made him stick it out through two games and the game never grew on him. They had enough members participating to still have a full team so we let him quit. 
  • They can not quit a sport (like karate) right after I just paid for another month of participation; they must let me know before I pay or wait until the next payment (or pay me back with their own money). 
  • They have to tell us WHY they don't want to participate anymore.  In Evan's case he has been feeling really out of sorts since this karate school is so different from our last. 
But overall I tend to err on the side of letting them quit rather than pushing them.

I don't want my kids to remember a childhood where they were miserable and forced to participate in activities that they were no longer interested in or where they were not having fun.  

Most of the time I can tell within a single season when the kids enjoyment has fizzled up and it's usually one of a few key factors:

  • They aren't improving.  It's hard to enjoy playing the game when you feel like the worst player on the team.  My kids are at that age where they want to try out all the sports and play with their friends just for the fun of playing on a team with their friends.  They are not in love with any sport.  They are not the type to practice for hours on end at home in their own time.  They pay attention at practice and play in the games and that's about it.  Many of the other kids do enjoy the actual sport and they play it every chance they get; they are soon surpassing my kids' skill levels and that makes the game not so fun.
  • They have an overly zealous coach who's focused on winning.  We've had coaches yell and get angry when the team looses game after game.  We've had coaches who played a few "key" players throughout the whole game and only allowed the other players a few minutes in each game.
  • The team was focused on winning. My boys have landed on teams where pretty much every other player, parent, and person on the field was only focused on winning.  We aren't like that; we focus on having fun while playing.  So when my kids made a mistake and laughed and their teammates glared at them or other parents on the side lines yelled angrily... that wasn't a good thing. When there is too much pressure to perform my kids don't enjoy playing. 
  • They had no idea what they were signing up for!  We encourage our kids to try new things.  Often they have signed up for classes or sports not knowing what it would be like at all.  Ian had no idea that baseball meant standing in one spot on the field waiting for a ball to come his way for what seemed like hours.  He would get so bored he'd start digging holes in the field with his shoes. In trying out new things that they have never tried before they often find that it's not what they thought it would be.
  • They've gotten everything out of if that they wanted.  My kids did participate in trampoline for a few years and really enjoyed it.  They learned a lot and then hit an area where they just decided they had had enough.  They enjoyed it and were still being challenged but just felt like they had gotten everything out of their classes that they wanted.  They didn't want to go further and gain even more skills. They weren't bored but I had noticed a decline in their excitement level and there was a feeling of going through the motions.  
  • They have other passions!  Because my kids are very open to trying new things they often loose interest in one activity because they've discovered another.  I strongly believe that childhood is the perfect time for my kids to try and sample all sorts of activities, sports, and classes and sometimes something just clicks that ignites a passion in them.  When that happens all other activities fall by the wayside.  

Today we arrived at karate and the teacher made a big to do over Evan not joining them today (but in a super- kind- making- him- feel -important- kind of way).  We settled down to watch the class and Evan worked on some learning games on the Kindle.  He played Dragon Box (which is an algebra based game), Word Monkey, and Stack the States.  In other words he did math, reading and geography!

After class the teacher asked me if Evan was done or just needed a break and I told her I really wasn't sure.  He didn't want to participate today and I'm not one to push my boys.

She smiled and assured me that she has learned to not push her kids either.

"It doesn't work!" Pushing kids to do what YOU want them to never really works. 

She assured me she tried that tactic over the years with her brood and always found it just didn't work.  Her youngest took karate for a little while and decided he hated it and wanted nothing to do with it.

She assured me it was not a problem and let us know that if Evan wanted to participate again he was more than welcome.

That made me feel so much better.

She told me not to think of them as quitting everything but to think of it from another angle:  "look at all they've tried!"  

I liked that.  

They have tried a lot and when they find something they love they'll stick with it (I hope!).

We came home and the boys played in their rooms with their Legos.  I was folding laundry and as I went to help each boy put their clothes away I asked Evan why we bothered to buy white t-shirts last week to put under his karate uniform if he was planning on quitting and very matter of factly he told me he was going to wear it again.  

When I asked him when he planned to wear it he told me "next time." 

Go figure! 

So from now on I'm not going to think of us as quitters.... we're "try- ers."  We like to try new things and it's OK to quit those that do not live up to our expectations.  

Linking Up With:



  1. We are not either a fan of quitting. I believe every child is a scientist. If you fail the first time, there is always another solution to be found. It is okay to ask for help.

  2. As a parent, it can be a challenge to help your child recognize whether they are quitting because it's something new and hard to learn or if they just don't like it. It's great your children love to try many things. In trying many things, they will find their natural talents and what they love to do. Thanks for sharing at Mom-to-Mom Mondays.

    1. It really is! There have been times I've agonized over whether to push them or not. Usually we try to encourage them to give it one more try or one more month and then reevaluate.

  3. I want to push, but not too hard. I feel like sometimes parents can get a little carried away with their own love of a sport or activity, making it no longer fun for the kids.
    We're not fans of quitting, if the kids pick a sport/activity we want to see them complete that season/class. So far we haven't had to deal with the kids not wanting to finish something, but we have had them not return. My middle child is queen of doing an activity once, but she's SO GOOD at everything she does, we'd love for her to keep going...
    Thanks for sharing with us at #MMBH :)

    1. That's how we feel. We'll push a but but not until they're miserable and unless they have an ultra great reason for quitting mid- season or mid- class they usually have to stick it out and just remember not to sign up again.

  4. I always encouraged my kids to at least try new things. If it wasn't right from them then they could quit. I agree that they need to be happy and not pushed just because. They always found their way and excelled and what they liked.
    Thanks for sharing your wonderful posts at Over The Moon Party.
    See you next week.


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