Family

How Do You Know When It's Time to Let Your Kid Quit an Activity?

Are they just whining or do they truly hate it?

Kids often whine about not wanting to go to piano, or violin, or soccer, or chess, or dance class, or whatever it is. They’d rather just be a kid. Sometimes, they’re talented, and you may have to force it for a bit before they realize on their own this is a good thing. But sometimes, the whining really does have a point — and parents don’t want to admit lack of talent, or lack of interest, may be enough to pull your kid out of that dreaded class or activity they hate.

Plus, who wants to admit a kid was right?

Sometimes, it’s worth it to bow out gracefully. But how does a parent know that time? How much whining should you listen to? Can you admit to yourself hey, maybe my kid isn’t so good at this one thing?

“The notion that persistence is essential for success and happiness is deeply embedded in popular and scientific writings,” write researchers in a study for Psychological Science. “However, when people are faced with situations in which they cannot realize a key life goal, the most adaptive response for mental and physical health may be to disengage from that goal…In some contexts, persistence may actually undermine well-being and good health…Does the activity seem to build your child's self-confidence—or does it tear it down?”

Mom-prenuer and co-founder of DivaMoms, Lyss Stern, tells Personal Space that it takes really reading your child to understand what activities are good for them.

“There are no right or wrong answers about letting your child quit a hobby and or activity as far as I am concerned. I know many will disagree with me. I think you need to know your child and each child is different,” she says. “If you see the child is truly disinterested in the hobby and has no motivation let them move on. There is no reason to force a child to do an activity if they really do not enjoy it and or want to engage anymore.”

Stern says to replace the activity they no longer want to participate in with one they do. It may take some time.
“I would try and help them find another hobby and or activity that they might enjoy better. Perhaps if you let it be, in time they will go back to that activity and hobby later on in their own free will. I personally believe in giving my children as many choices as possible and letting them decide what they are passionate about. The end goal should be to help find your children something that they love doing and enjoy the experience.”

One study on the topic found that most parents think that persistence is key to success, and while it most certainly is, some goals are simply unattainable and if your kid is miserable doing it, you may actually affect their health. If you let them make some choices on their own, they will most likely find something that interests them.

“The notion that persistence is essential for success and happiness is deeply embedded in popular and scientific writings. However, when people are faced with situations in which they cannot realize a key life goal, the most adaptive response for mental and physical health may be to disengage from that goal,” reports the study. “To the extent that subjects had difficulties disengaging from unattainable goals, they displayed increasing concentrations of CRP over the follow-up. This association was independent of potential confounds, including adiposity, smoking, and depression. Because excessive inflammation contributes to a variety of adverse medical outcomes, these findings suggest that in some contexts, persistence may actually undermine well-being and good health.”

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