How to Keep 'I Quit' Out of Your Kids' Sports Playbook

Jeanne Sager
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girls on soccer sidelines

If getting your kid into sports is the answer to everything from fighting childhood obesity to keeping them occupied in the evening so you can make dinner, the words "I quit" are two that leave parents with more questions than anything. You spit a litany of "Why? Don't you like it? What can we do?" at your child, then "Can I get my deposit back?" at the league.

As the wife of the soccer coach, I'd like to say I've never been there. Maybe I'm not supposed to admit it. But here it is, for the sake of every parent who has wondered: it happens to us too. My daughter has been indoctrinated into soccer. Not just introduced. Indoctrinated. And we have still heard the two words that left us scrambling. Here's what helps get their head back in the game.

Ask. Don't Tell. Loading your kid down with details like, "I paid X, and you have Y games left, and you have Z teammates depending on you" is just going to make a stressed youngster that much more stressed. You have to find out why they're feeling this way, not guilt them into staying. They may have a really good reason -- a coach with a case of the screamies? A particularly nasty teammate? Or maybe it's something as simple as their soccer cleats are too small, and taking the field every day is really uncomfortable? You will not find out if you go in with your own agenda.

Talk to the Coach. If you're not getting a "good reason" out of your child, the next step is to go to the coach. You would talk to your child's teacher if they were refusing to return to school; so why not the coach? They may be able to highlight the problem, or help you get your child moved to another activity that is a better fit. Sometimes your kid just isn't cut out for baseball; he's more of a soccer type or vice versa.

Play at Home. The best way to renew a child's love of the game? Show them it can be fun. One-on-one play can give you hidden insight into what may be bugging your kid, be it something in the game that they're having trouble mastering or just free their mind up to focus on the game and therefore open their mouth to chat.

Be Open to Change. If they do quit in the end, be aware that kids who quit sports are at a higher risk of obesity, so work with them to find something they ARE interested in. Quitting doesn't have to mean no activities at all.

Have your kids tried to quit one of their teams? What did you do?

 

Image ©iStock.com/HelpingHandPhotos 

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