Mom wants little Suzie to be involved in something, to find an activity she loves and can excel in. So-and-so from school belongs to this soccer team/dance class/karate dojo, so that seems like a good place to start. After all, a positive referral from someone we know is all we need, right? A few weeks (or months) pass, and little Suzie whines, saying things like “I HATE soccer” or “my dance teacher is so MEAN to me,” and mom is concerned. Does she really want to quit these lessons? Is the teacher really being mean to her? But the fact is, arguing with Little Suzie is not worth the trouble. Mom is tired, has other children, has a busy job, has a hectic schedule, etc…So Little Suzie quits.
As a dance educator for over 10 years, I’ve seen this problem more often than I’d like to admit. There are some exceptions here and there, but the story is usually the same: Little Suzie is just lazy.
I know. You can’t believe I just said that.
Little Suzie knows exactly what to say to get her way. She’s smart, and you should be proud you raised such a smart cookie. The reasons for not wanting to go may be as simple as something else is more interesting or she’s just trying to establish her independence in a way that allows her to make decisions for herself. In all honesty though mom, grab hold of the reigns while you can. This is your shining moment to teach your child some great life lessons and change her from a quitter to a committer.
You made a commitment to this class/team, and you will follow through with your commitments.
Teaching our children to honor their commitments to a team or class can only better their future commitments in relationships and their jobs. Sometimes we don’t think this far in advance because how can sticking with dance lessons at age three really make that much difference? But it does.
Also, your child will not like every aspect of an activity. Though they may love playing baseball, they hate running drills in 90 degree heat. Who wouldn’t? If we teach our children that it’s ok to quit an activity simply because they don’t like one small aspect of it is like saying its ok to quit your job because you don’t like the dress code. Seems silly, right?
It’s not nice to say things that aren’t true.
Do we believe everything our children tell us? If your child tells you the teacher “hates them” or is “mean,” take it upon yourself to get to the bottom of it. The teacher may be strict, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Though our children are usually perfect (wink, wink), the adult should get the benefit of the doubt until you’ve gotten the whole story – or observed a class/practice for yourself. If not, one day you might find yourself stuck with a teenager with a puppy dog eyes that gets away with just about anything.
If you don’t like this activity, we can find something together that you DO like.
This is more common in tweens and teens – quitting an organized activity gives them more computer/phone/television/video game time. Social interaction is an important aspect of developing who they will be as adults. Do we really want our teenagers to have a lot of free time on their hands? I promise you, most of them don’t fill it with studying. Also, physical activity is a habit that is best formed early. Childhood obesity is a growing problem in America, and but eating healthy is only half of the issue. An established commitment to physical activity will shape their future health, social image, and self-esteem.
Well, there you have it, mom – some ways to respond to the whining and complaining that can come along with any organized activity. Though you absolutely know your child best, sometimes it helps to dig a little deeper and find the root of the problem. At the end of the day, we are raising the future of America.
Wouldn’t it be terrible if we all just quit?
Jessica Perilloux is a life-long resident of New Orleans and the owner of Lakeview Creative Arts Center. She graduated from Mount Carmel Academy and earned a business degree from Loyola University as well as an MBA from Kaplan University. Jessica has been teaching dance for over 10 years and has also been a judge for a number of national dance competitions. She spends her summers performing and choreographing for the St. Pius Players, a theater group based out of St. Pius Church in New Orleans. She currently lives with her husband, 2 year old son, and miniature daschund in Bucktown.