When Your Child Wants to Quit Sports

September 12th, 2013 posted by Elizabeth Pantley

When Your Child Wants to Quit Sports - FamilyCorner.com

When I was growing up, the extent of my athletic experience was whatever they made me do twice a week when I put on my goofy blue gym uniform. I hated it! How times have changed! All three of my children have been involved in soccer, baseball, swimming and Ty Kwon Do. And all three say that gym class is one of their favorite classes. I realize that sometimes it’s not easy to get kids to commit to sports activities. But the long term benefits for your child make it worth the battle. Here’s a section from my book, Perfect Parenting, that addresses the issues of the reluctant athlete:

Question

My child signs up for athletic lessons and then doesn’t like it and doesn’t want to practice. After a few sessions she wants to quit. How do I get her involved in sports and how do I get her to stay committed?

Think about it

The first step is to determine the child’s reason for wanting to quit. You can figure this out by taking to the child, talking to the coach and watching a practice session and a game. There may be more than one reason. Review the solutions below for each reason.

#1, child isn’t skilled in the sport

Often children want to join a team because they enjoy watching the big league games on TV and playing with friends at the park. Once they join a team, however, they find that the game is harder than they thought, and they don’t have the skills to play well. Practice – just what the child wants to avoid – is the key to an attitude adjustment. Explain to your child that it takes time and practice to play well and because the session has just started she must give it a fair chance. Make an agreement that she must do her best for the session (or a specific amount of time). After that point, she can either continue, or stop and try something else. Put your agreement in writing and post it. Often a child can handle an activity for a short specific amount of time, and at the end of the time period has adequate skills to enjoy the sport and can then make a better decision about continuing.

#2, child is not having fun

Sometimes, the actual involvement isn’t as fun as the child imagined. First make sure the coach or teacher is compatible with your child. If there is a major personality clash it may be worth it to change coaches. If your child is not correctly matched to the skill level of the team, her inability to keep up could prevent her from having fun. If all seems to be okay in these areas, you can build your child’s interest by taking her to a professional-level game and to a game involving kids a few years older than she is. Another way to increase your child’s commitment to the game is to have enough equipment at home for casual practice, and to take the time to enjoy the game with your child, without the pressure of the formal game.

#3, sport takes up too much time

Most sports activities do require a time commitment from both child and parent. A child who is committed to more than one activity can easily feel overwhelmed. It’s usually best to focus on one extra-curricular activity at a time so that the child still has some time left over after sports and school for free unstructured play.

#4, child feels too much pressure

First experiences with team competition can be difficult for children. It’s especially hard if a child is not a great player. One way to remove some of the pressure is to cheer for the whole team, as opposed to the individual in the spotlight, “Go Redwings!” Another method is to focus on effort, skills and technique. “Good swing! Nice try!” If a child doesn’t ask for advice about how to play better, don’t give any! Leave it to the coaches. Watch how you, other parents, the kids and the coaches respond after a lost game. Look for something positive to say, “What a great effort!” Focus on a few positive details from the game. Find some time to play a casual version of the game at home or at the park so your child can enjoy the process without worrying about who wins.

(Excerpted with permission by NTC/Contemporary Publishing Group, Inc. from Perfect Parenting, The Dictionary of 1,000 Parenting Tips by Elizabeth Pantley, copyright 1999)

Elizabeth Pantley (57 Posts)

Elizabeth Pantley is also the president of Better Beginnings, Inc. She is a popular speaker on family issues. Elizabeth’s newsletter, Parent Tips is seen in schools nationwide. She appears as a regular radio show guest and has been quoted in Parents, Parenting, Redbook, Good Housekeeping, American Baby, Twins, Working Mother, and Woman’s Day magazines. You can visit her website at http://www.pantley.com/elizabeth/


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