Persistence is essential to develop a passion: Contrary to popular belief, a passion is not something one wakes up to suddenly. It is a result of hard work and dedication and the joy of doing something well. And only when your child stays with something for a reasonable period of time, will she find out if she is passionate about it or not!
Why do children want to quit?
Children can be very creative; it is impossible to count the number of excuses they can come up with. Sample these: “I don’t feel like doing it”, “My friends are doing something else”, the list goes on…..
- “It’s too hard” - Your child bit off more than she could chew; she thought she could handle the practice sessions, drills and warm-ups of basketball; now she finds them exhausting. Or it could simply be that the child is not ready; the skills she possesses don’t match what the activity requires.
- “I don’t like the teacher” - The adult-in- charge may have an approach to motivation and discipline that is different from what you use at home.
- “It is boring” or “The class isn’t fun” – Your child may be under stimulated or the instructor/teacher/coach bogged down by too many children to handle.
The reasons given above are rather usual and children are vociferous about them. But there are also reasons your child may not be able to articulate; you may need to read between the lines to understand these:
- Fear of failure – After a few classes, the novelty of an activity wears off. The child realises that what looked effortless and easy, be it a stroke or a move, is the result of long hours of hard work and practice. This makes her anxious and fearful.
- The child is overwhelmed – Too many things to do in a day; your child finds switching gears, adjustment and reorientation exhausting.
- The child sees the activity as ‘low stakes’ - She does not see any improvement in herself, or she feels the parent does not value the activity, or most importantly, there are no consequences if she quits.
While some of the issues can be tackled by tweaking our day-to-day approach (see Dos and Don’ts later in this article), many can be addressed at the beginning – before you commit your child to something.
Aspects to consider – Insurance against quitting!
Are we pushing younger and younger children into structured activities?
“In young children, activities which do not provide a variety of sensory experiences tend to become monotonous and boring. A child needs to explore several activities, but these should be unstructured at least till the age of five or six. Structure can slowly be introduced after this age,” is the opinion of Dr. Desai. If your four-year-old enjoys art, invest in a good set of paints, crayons and clay, and nurture her interest at home.