When Kids Want to Quit Sports

18 October 2023

Sports have proven to aid in physical fitness, mental acuity, working as a team, and forming friendships. There are a number of scenarios about when, how, and why your child asks to quit a sport.

  • It is part way through the season and your child begins to beg to quit. This is the point where you need to know the reason.  Did something happen to change his or her attitude?  Are they sitting on the bench too much?  Why is it no longer fun?  Finding the cause can help work through roadblocks and see what can be salvaged.
  • There is the situation where the kid complains up to the drop off, but after the game or practice, they seemed happy for having participated. So, probably the child is fine with the sport.  However, it the behavior continues, it is worth exploring why they dread the drop off.
  • If your son or daughter seemed to enjoy the activity initially but at some point begins to complain and ask to quit, not only at drop off but during the week, especially if the worry or dread increases during the period between events, this could be a sign of greater anxiety. Watch for other signs of the same emotions around school or other events.  If the angst is impacting their daily life, you may want to consider counseling.

It could be that the excitement of the sport or of a new venture wears thin as the hard work and effort starts.  It could be too tiring from an over packed schedule.  It could be that the kid really does not like that particular sport even though it looks fun on television.  There is always the possibility that there is an issue with the coach, the coaching style, or teammate(s).

You have made an investment in equipment, gear, uniforms, etc. and, let’s face it, money could have been used otherwise, not to mention time crunches to get to and from practice and games. If the parent speaks with the child at the outset and explains the investment, as a parent you can explain the expectation that they finish at least a single season.  It is like keeping a promise or agreeing to a responsibility like lawn care or pet sitting.

Letting your child quit does not mean you failed as a parent or in this segment of parenting.  It could be that he or she was simply not ready for it that year and perhaps it would be better to try in another year or two.  To start with, it is important to choose the sport that suits the child.  Younger kids do better in shorter seasons.

Not every lesson needs to be taught or learned at the same time.  The best circumstances will show up at some appropriate point.

The reason you are reading this is not to tell you what happened but how to handle it, although the “why” can lead to the best answer.  First, and probably the most difficult, is to remain calm.  When you find out why it happened you can work on a solution.

  • If it is energy level, you may consider how or where to cut back. Spend less time on the sport, or remove some other activity from the calendar.
  • Issues with teammates or the coach means problem solving with your son or daughter on methods that could be used to make things better. Talking with other parents, the coach, or other kids might help.
  • Bullying is another kettle of fish entirely. There are often procedures in place to help.
  • If your kid finds that they just really don’t like the sport, at least encourage them to finish the season.

Learning to make good life decisions is important for both the parent and child.  Not easy, but certainly important.

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