Quitting is one of those things that universally has a bad reputation. Quitters never win, winners never quit and similar messages thread through all messages about living and success. Resilience and persistence are the name of the game and parents focus on equipping children with these skills as early as possible. Part of that often involves never letting children quit anything because it’s a slippery slope and all. Here are some reasons why it’s okay to let your kids quit things.
Help them find their passion
Allowing children to quit can help them try out many different things so they can eventually find their passions. Early specialization is not all it has cracked up to be. It’s even worse when you force children to continue engaging in activities they are no longer interested in or excited about. Trying out many different activities helps them develop a broader range of knowledge and skills they can later draw from.
Builds creativity and self-motivation
Sampling different activities gives them an opportunity to be creative. Allowing them to freely choose the activities they engage in based on their interests gives them a sense of autonomy which fosters an intrinsic motivation. Being forced to keep doing something even if it’s beneficial has a different impact from doing something simply because you enjoy it.
Allowing your children to quit an activity can open up an opportunity to try other things This means they get to learn, take risks, and begin again, not just stick to the familiar, that they already know.
There’s a time and place
Allowing children to quit teaches them the important lesson that there’s a time and place for quitting. While it’s important to teach children that sometimes you have to keep doing things even if you don’t enjoy them, it’s important for them to know that sometimes there’s wisdom in knowing when to stop. Plus, the stakes are not that high and you don’t know how much they don’t enjoy the activity. You could be forcing them to do something that they loathe and where is the benefit in that when the stakes are low?
What to do instead
There’s a common misconception that quitting is cowardly, so parents force their kids to stick with activities they no longer enjoy. This can inadvertently teach children to stay in bad situations. Give your children a measure of control over their life especially where the stakes are low. You can encourage them to stick it out not by forcing them but by sharing stories about how you faced a similar choice and persisted.
Reassure them and yourself
Remind yourself and them that sometimes quitting can make one happier and healthier. One study found that people who are able to let go of unattainable or unwanted goals enjoy better well-being and experience fewer illnesses.
Give examples of people who successfully pivoted
We don’t talk about quitting and pivoting enough, but you can find examples of people who have done that and ended up successful. This is especially important for older kids who may have internalized negative messaging that will leave them feeling ashamed because of a desire to quit.
If your child is done with one pursuit, you can come up with an alternative plan to help them find what other activities they’d like to try. Make a list of activities together and let them pick something and try it out without the pressure to stick with it. Making a plan together can also help build their problem-solving skills which is transferable in other areas of life.
Follow your child’s lead and make sure you’re not falling into the trap of living your life through your kids. Teach them to take risks and experiment. Quitting is not a sign of laziness and it’s not synonymous with giving up. Quitting can be empowering and freeing, allowing you to discover new interests and passions. It can also make you happier and healthier which is a win on its own.
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