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Quit or carry on: when should you let your child give up a sport?

In between or mid season a child may decide that he does not want to carry on with the sport he/she has been playing. Which way should we be guiding them? Do we listen to them, or to our neighbors, coaches, or friends? What is best for my child?

While there’s no general answer that’s right for every child, there are several parts to consider regardless of your child’s sport. When your child begins an activity, create a supportive environment at home. This may help keep your child interest from waning.

When it comes down to quitting or pressing on, the decision will depend on the child, their level of talent, the length of time involved in the activity and the reasons for wanting to quit.

“There are no right or wrong answers about giving up a sport,” says Amy Kaiser, GreatSchools teacher consultant and 2005 Elementary Physical Education Teacher of the Year in Minnesota. But she offers a few pointers to make the decision easier:

  • Talk with your child before signing them up for a sport or activity. Do they want to participate? What are their goals for the season? Do they understand the time commitment and cost?

  • Try to see the season through. Some early practices are tough, or new coaches or situations are uncomfortable because they are different. Help your child to work through problems and try to keep the commitment for the season. Teammates, coaches and schedules are counting on a full season. After the season is over is a good time to discuss pros and cons and decide if they would like to continue the next season. Sticking out a tough season is a good character-builder and helps reinforce good work ethics.

  • If your child insists on quitting, find out all the reasons why. Maybe a discussion with the coach or with the team will solve conflicts or calm fears.

  • Know your child, keep communication open and help them make the best decision with the most information.

At times quitting might be the right choice for your child’s health, specifically if your child struggles to meet the challenges associated with the sport.

There’s a point when it becomes cruel to force a child to continue, Later on, you may wish they had continued, but it all comes down to goal-setting and family support from the beginning. When it’s your gut feeling that your child is right about wanting to quit, then it’s time to write a nice note to the coach and have good closure.

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