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To quit or not?


To quit or not

Recently,  my son came to me asking if he could quit his tabla classes. And not just temporarily, as he had often done during exams, for instance.  No, this time he wanted to quit for good. And for no other reason than that he was bored.

Well, I refused.  We had invested nearly 6 years in his classes, and that was not going to be wasted on a whim.  But it was not a whim, he said, he was really bored of the tabla.  I told him he was most probably hitting a plateau, as often happens in any learning endeavour; and the usual way to get over a slump is to power your way through until you get to the next level.

So, being an intelligent kid, he began to gather up more ammunition for his battle  – he decided to rope in his father.  Now my husband and I have different views on kid commitment: he is of the opinion that kids should be allowed to do what they want, and if they want to quit an activity that does not interest them, they should be given the option.  Whereas I think that kids should learn about commitment and perseverance – if they take up an activity, they should not give it up mid-stream, but continue at least up for a certain time period or up to a certain accomplishment level.  Learning anything is not easy, and kids should know that.  Of course, I am not advocating  pushing the kids if they are absolutely disinterested, but how will you know if it is a temporary slump or a real dislike until you have tried it long enough?

So help me out here – what are your views on kids commitment – to push or not?

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Gayatri Kulkarni is on the ParentEdge Editorial Panel. Her children have studied in the Indian ICSE, the International Baccalaureate and American school systems – giving her a ringside view of the pros and cons of all three systems. She has a multicultural approach to education and is interested in learning methods that stimulate a lifelong love for learning.


One thought on “To quit or not?

  1. Kritika Srinivasan

    Tough questions to answer, just like every other parenting question! I would say that what you do really depends from child to child and situation to situation. On the one hand, I agree with you that we allow our children to give up too easily and don’t encourage them to see things through, and sadly, this is leading to a generation of kids who have no focus and are not resilient enough when it comes to failure. And day-to-day, they tire of things quickly, see no value in time and money spent on something and are only too ready to give up. I recall what Amy Chua said about sticking to something even when you don’t enjoy it until you achieve mastery. And with that mastery comes approbation and enjoyment.

    On the other hand, if your child is really unhappy about pursuing a particular interest, feels miserable about practising and derives absolutely no enjoyment from it, is there any use to forcing her to continue day after day? Let alone the number of battles you will be embroiled in as a parent, I also think the child will have no intrinsic motivation to excel and continue to learn.

    So what’s the correct answer? I don’t know. But I do know that you know your son best – his personality, his traits and his potential. I think it is perfectly okay for parents to make decisions for children until they are old enough to know what they really want and to understand the consequences of their decisions.

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