Building preservation in our children is the most important skill we can show them how to master. Parents want their children to play sports, take dance lessons, practice the piano and attend art classes. Many parents sign their children up for religious activities or community services opportunities and academic activities after school.
Children who start an activity and then want to drop it can start a cycle of ‘quits’ that will impact them forever. When a child begins this pattern or has a lot of ‘similar behaviors’ in the long run and this can be a huge problem. It is important that children have a say in their life but it is also important that parents set the ground rules.
Whether you are discussing the need to stop a team activity or an individual activity all families need to supply the following tips for future success with their child:
1. Clear Timeline of events that will happen (Volleyball runs for 9 weeks and this also involves 5 weekends when you have games.) Children need to know what to expect. This is often best in visual form so they really understand how big their commitment is. Parents should always show their child what it looks like on a calendar. Then the child should stick to what they committed to. Some sports do not have a natural ending point so parents and children should put on the calendar key times when they will sit down and review this decision. Children should not be able to change their mind unless it is at a review time, then they should have full say in what they do. Often children quit because of what a peer said, or how they feel in an isolated situation. They need to preserve for a while to make sure they are quitting for the right reason.
2. Understanding of parental expectation – Children need to know this prior to signing up to do an activity. Parents need to be honest about this and not ‘be wanting’ their child to do something the parent always wanted to do when they were a child
3. Successfully items of appreciation – Bribes still work well with some children. If you are trying to build a life long love for a sport or activity then it is OK to reward the child after a successful season with a special event. ‘Achievement parties of completion of a successful season’ should be planned in advance. Example: When the season is over we will hold a pizza party for the team. Or when the season is over you can choose a teammate and we will spend the weekend at the beach.
4. Parental involvement throughout the season. Don’t expect your child to remain excited if you are only excited the first day of the season or at the award banquet.
5. Voice the behavior you want not the behavior you want to stop. “Don’t be a quitter” will create a child that wants to ‘quit’. If a parent says, “Being committed to the end of the season will support your team mates” these types of statements will help your child think about ”the commitment’. It is true children only hear about half of what parents say so we need to say the positive outcomes we want.
These five tips work well with children of all ages and can make these hard decisions more enjoyable for everyone.
Julia Simens is an author, educator, consultant and presenter with a focus on international relocation. This has kept Julia coming and going from the USA for over 20 years. She is a member of the American Psychology Association and has worked on five continents with families who are relocating all over the world. With a focus on family therapy and early childhood education she has helped many children and families adjust to their global lifestyle.