I was recently asked to be a panel member on Huffington Post live (video below) where we discussed the issue whether sports parents should let their kid quit.
This is a very delicate subject that sports parents often must face and regularly ask my opinion on.
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this. My main idea I want sports parents to get is to make decisions consciously and have the knowledge to consider all the ramifications. Don’t just blindly follow the cultural norm or a coach’s advice.
Here are the points I made in the video that parents can consider to help them make a decision:
1. Parents need to stay engaged and do everything they can to give kids perspective on events (or news stories like the Peyton Manning story) so that kids don’t make up false or destructive stories about these events. They will do this in the vacuum of non-parental support and the beliefs formed in their younger years can cause life-long problems.
For example, a child loses his starting spot on the team. Without any help, a child could conclude and form a belief that they are “not athletic”
or worse, generalizations like “I’m not good enough” which they then apply to other areas of their life. You DON’T want that to happen! I am forever cleaning up this kind of thing when I work with youth athletes.
2. When a child wants to quit, you want to find out WHY the child wants to quit. Much of the time, it’s because of fear-based reasons. I’m afraid to fail or let my team down. I’m afraid of being called names or being bullied. I’m afraid of teammates not liking me….etc. Get to the heart of the reasons and if it is fear, address the fear, don’t just go to the easy out which is quitting.
If you feel there really isn’t fear there…and there are good reasons like really wanting to do another sport which is more exciting, or individual rather than team (or vice versa) or some other reason centered around the sport itself, well then, I wouldn’t consider that “quitting.” That can be labelled “changing sport” or “changing activity” (if the new thing is not a sport).
The word “quitting” is just a word. It’s the meaning we put behind it that matters.
3. Parents can avoid this problem in the first place by being proactive. When a child is interested in a sport or activity or a goal to get to the next level in the current sport, then the parent can bring out all the foreseeable issues that kids run into and have the child agree to a commitment with an understanding of what is expected with regards to the family values. Have the child sign a sheet of paper if you want. I talk about this at the end of the video below. If you do this, then the risk of the child creating resentment when you hold them to the agreement goes wayyyy down. The kid gives you permission to teach them commitment!
Let’s do this,