The Wall Street Journal recently covered the sensitive topic on when is it time to let a child quit a sport or activity.
It’s a topic that my family is also grappling with and then I recalled this relevant post we did in the past on the pros and cons of forced team activity:
Involvement in team sports helps kids learn to work together, encourages physical activity over more sedentary pursuits and can give your child a sense of belonging when he’s accepted by his teammates. A child who is stuck playing a sport he doesn’t enjoy, however, may not reap the same benefits as his more eager teammates. When your child approaches you with pleas to allow his mid-season resignation from the team, your first instinct may be to deny him. After all, sticking it out through the rest of the season, even if he absolutely despises the sport or his team, is said to boost character and give your child a sense of responsibility. In all actuality, however, there are definite pros and cons to allowing your child to quit in the middle of the season, so the situation isn’t quite so cut-and-dry.
As a parent, it isn’t always easy to see the benefits of allowing your child to abandon a sport or activity before seeing the season through. There are, however, plenty of reasons why you may actually be making the right choice by allowing your youngster to abandon his post.
Letting Kids Explore Their Own Interests – Every kid has his own unique goals, tastes and hobbies, and they may be diametrically opposed to your own. By insisting that your child spend a full season on the soccer team that you love, you’re effectively robbing him of the chance to explore his own interests and to find something that works for him. Encouraging participation in another activity, even a solitary one, may be a silver lining to the mid-season abandonment of a sport.
Preserving Academic Performance – Just as adults can be spread so thinly between their many obligations that everything begins to suffer a bit, so can an over-scheduled kid. Rather than continuing to struggle under the burden of maintaining her grades while keeping a commitment to a sport she doesn’t find enjoyable, your child could have the opportunity to focus more energy on her classes while still having enough time to explore other areas of interest.
Focusing On Other Activities – If your child is involved with an activity that he truly loves and he wants to focus more of his energy on it than a sport he doesn’t care for, you may actually want to applaud the maturity and budding prioritization skills he’s showing.
Creating More Room for Family Time – Between school, clubs, sports and the busy schedule of harried parents, finding the time for family dinners, game nights or other collective activities can be a real challenge for every member of your household. Eliminating one thing from the schedule can make a noticeable difference, though. If your child is itching to quit soccer and everyone needs to spend more time together, his reluctance to continue could create the opportunity for everyone to spend more time together.
Ending a Relationship With a Bad Coach – Bullies don’t just come in the form of your child’s peers. Whether it’s an insatiable need to bring home a win at all times or the result of pressure from other parents, some coaches can become so obsessed with performance that they treat their players badly. In such cases, quitting a sport allows your family to completely sever ties with a coach that likes to bully his team.
There are some good reasons for allowing a child to quit a sport mid-season, and some positive things that can result from such a switch. However, there’s also more than one drawback to letting your child walk away before the season closes.
Breaking a Commitment to the Team – If your child is a reasonably skilled player, chances are that the rest of the team has come to rely on her skills to some degree. Allowing her to leave the team in the middle of the season not only leaves them scrambling to fill the position left behind by your child, but also sends the message that she ultimately does not care about their continued success. For competitive middle and high school athletic programs, this can be a serious blow.
Forfeiture of Financial Investments – When you add up the expenses of registration fees, the purchase of equipment and other team-related expenses, you quickly come to the realization that team sports aren’t cheap. The money you’ve spent will almost certainly be a total loss if your child quits mid-way through the season.
Giving Kids the Wrong Idea About Quitting – There are times when it’s absolutely okay to quit, and others when a lesson in perseverance can be a valuable one. Giving your child permission to quit a sport halfway through the season on a whim can send her the wrong message about quitting, especially if you don’t use the experience as a talking point.
Potentially Shifting to a More Sedentary Lifestyle – Team sports promote physical activity and can keep your child fit in a way that vegging out in front of the television simply won’t. If your child quits a sport while everyone else he knows is still playing, the motivation to get outside and engage in active play may be trumped by the desire to devote attention to more sedentary pastimes.
Loss of Opportunities to Learn About Teamwork – The importance of teamwork and the power of cooperative striving for a single goal is a lesson best taught by participation in team sports. If your child quits midway through his first season and never returns to organized sports, those lessons may be a bit more difficult for him to learn.
Good luck parents.