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When is it okay to quit Children's Wisconsin

Throwing in the towel: When is it okay to let your child quit

We all experience quitting at some point in our lives, whether it's quitting a job, a relationship or a hobby. There are many reasons why children may want to quit something from losing interest to being overwhelmed with other commitments. Knowing whether to encourage a child to stick with it or allow them to quit can be a difficult decision to make as a caregiver. 

Quitting and sticking with it, or persevering, can both be important life lessons as long as you give a child support as they work through these situations. Here are some tips to help you support your child as they navigate quitting. 

Impacting a child's mental health

When a child quits something, it can have a significant impact on their mental health and development. When a child quits, they may experience: 

  • A decrease in self-esteem. When a child quits something they once enjoyed or felt passionate about, it can leave them feeling like they have failed or aren't good enough. This can lead to feelings of inadequacy and low self-worth.

  • A decreased ability to form and maintain relationships. If a child quits a friendship or social activity, they may miss out on important social interactions and opportunities to build connections with others. This can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness.

  • A decrease in motivation and perseverance. If a child develops a pattern of quitting when things get tough or when they face a challenge, it can be difficult for them to develop the resilience and determination needed to achieve their goals and overcome obstacles in the future.

Because quitting can have such a significant impact on a child's mental health and development, it's important to encourage kids to stick with things, even when they become difficult.

Build resilience and coping skills

Learning to persevere and not quit on things can be a valuable life skill that can help kids build resilience and cope with future challenges. If your child is expressing a desire to quit, it's important you listen seriously to their concerns — there may be other issues to address here. Discuss those anxieties and give your child some tools to practice perseverance:

  • Help your child to set achievable goals and encourage them to stick with them. Help them see that success is not always immediate and hard work is often necessary to achieve their goals.

  • Teach your child effective problem-solving strategies and coping skills to help them overcome obstacles. For example, when faced with a difficult task, help your child break it down into smaller, more manageable steps. Focus on the progress they are making rather than just the end result.

  • Model perseverance and resilience for children in your own life. Children learn from the behavior of the adults around them, so it's important for parents to demonstrate a positive attitude toward challenges and setbacks.

If it's time to quit

Though it's important to encourage perseverance, in some cases, quitting really may be the best option. Especially if your child is expressing interest in using their skills and putting their energy in a new direction, it's important that you support your child as they transition. With the right guidance and support, your child can learn to embrace new opportunities and experiences.

  • Be open minded. It's important to listen to your child's reasons for wanting to quit and try to understand their perspective. Instead of pushing them to continue with something they don't enjoy, try to find out what they do enjoy and encourage them to pursue that instead.

  • Show support for your child's decision. If your child does decide to quit, be supportive and help them through the transition. Let them know they can always come to you for guidance and support. Tell them you're proud of them. The most important thing is to help your child feel confident and empowered in their decision to quit.

  • Help your child explore new interests. It's important to teach your child that quitting doesn't mean giving up. Quitting can be a way to make room to explore new opportunities and experiences. Let them know that it's okay to make mistakes and that failure is a natural part of the learning process.

Though quitting can be a challenging situation to navigate, it may actually end up being a great opportunity to teach important life skills to your child. Teaching children the importance of perseverance and resilience can have a positive impact on their mental health and overall well-being. Supporting children as they quit and begin something new can help them find a better use for their skills and talents.

When discussing quitting with your child, the most important thing you can do is to provide support, encouragement and guidance. This will give your child the skills they need to overcome challenges and navigate similar situations in the future.