Why Its Okay for Kids to Quit
We've all heard the cry "Don't Quit!", or seen a parent becoming frustrated with their child giving up on a sport, instrument, or task. It can be pretty hard, our instinct is always to convince the child to continue, to fight harder, or to try one more time. Our fear is that they will develop a quitting mentality, that they won't develop moral character.
But just for a second, let's look at the flip side of quitting.
Here’s some positive aspects of quitting!
1. Quitting is an option.
If you offer your child a choice of whether to quit or not, it HAS to be a choice. Asking them if they want to quit band knowing that you won't allow them to is no choice at all. It's kind of manipulative, actually. When you give your child a choice, you give them some agency, some control over their actions. It might be the choice you want, but if it's on the table, it's an option, and should be respected as such. Giving your child some control over their choices is a good thing, when done with care.
2. Adults Quit EVERYTHING.
Like...Everything. You quit that exercise program, that diet, you've likely quit a few jobs, you don't play on that softball team anymore. You're probably not married to your first boyfriend/girlfriend. Your life is a series of things you've quit. In the long term, your kid quitting something they're not interested in isn't a big deal. They're learning how to be just like an adult.
3. This Game Might Be Rigged.
Kids invent games constantly. They come up with rules, and sometimes the rules aren't great, and the game collapses, and people quit. Unless everyone feels like they have a chance to win, or play fairly, The act of quitting is a pretty powerful weapon, one which might make things better, because…
4. Quitting Improves Things.
In the playground scenario, quitting represents a choice to change the status quo, to tell the leader that something isn't right with the game.The way that change happens often is by quitting the game. That game leader can choose to change the rules to make things fairer so that people will want to play, or the game dies there and then. This will lead to a game that is more fair to everyone, and increase the willingness to play it. If this happens a few times (what we call Iterations), the game will evolve into something everyone is on board with, and the game lives on.
So quitting can be a tool in your child's arsenal that will help them navigate the world of choices and fairness, as well as increase their feeling of control over their own actions.Keep that in mind the next time this happens in your world, and remember to ask yourself whether the music lessons were important to you, or to your quitter.
© 2019 Dave Ware