Help too much, too soon
If you are a helicopter parent, hovering around and swooping in at the slightest hint of an obstacle or difficulty to bail out your child, stop! However difficult it may be to see your beloved child struggle, avoid stepping in. Solving her own problems is vital to your child developing self-reliance and self-confidence, which in turn are essential to persevere.
Taking a step back may help her perceive things differently and also understand where she is heading. If you see signs that your child is getting into a rut, seems de-motivated or listless, and asks for a break for a few weeks or months, do give in. Aparna Krishnan, a 16-year-old Bharatanatyam dancer, had to take an enforced break due to a leg injury. “The break made me realise how much I missed dancing and I wanted to get back to it more than anything else in the world.” So when your child wants a breather, give her one
When is it right to let a child quit?
Whining, arguing, grumbling and complaining are commonplace. But, “bunking practice sessions, feigning ill-health, crying spells, psychosomatic symptoms — the presence of these at an increasing frequency is a red flag parents should watch out for,” says Dr. Desai. Keyuri Sura had such an experience when her 14-year-old daughter Nidhi was really interested in Karate, and then insisted on leaving it a few months later. “Nidhi was so miserable and unwilling to go, that, even though I was unhappy to see her quit, I allowed it. An important reason to pursue an extra-curricular activity is to release stress. If the child is not happy, despite all my efforts, then it does not make sense to continue.”
If the adult-in-charge or peers are physically or verbally abusive, and your attempts to intervene have not brought about any change, then the environment is not one that is conducive to learning. In this case, you could enrol your child in the same activity, but with a different group and teacher, so that she is not quitting the activity, just the setting or environment.
If your child shows a complete lack of interest (in a ‘non-essential’ activity like skating or debating) and if commitment to a team is not part of the equation, and the child has stuck out for the agreed time period, then praise her for her honesty and let her quit. After all, childhood is also for exploration. In such a scenario, quitting helps her learn that if something is not working (and she has worked hard enough at it), it is alright to cut her losses and move on.