Q&A: Bailing your daughter out

Question:

Our eight-year-old daughter begged to start gymnastics lessons, and we paid several hundred ringgit for an eight-week course. But after two weeks, her muscles are sore and she realizes it’s harder than she thought. She wants to quit. Should we let her bail out or make her continue for another six weeks?

Answer: The answer will depend on your child and her track record. If she has a habit of making enthusiastic false starts but rarely bringing any projects to completion, she’ll probably benefit from the experience of struggling to complete the course she started.  This “reality therapy” will be especially important if you funded the classes after she promised to finish them. In this case, the issue is being true to her word, rather than the classes themselves or the cost. Through perseverance, she might even come to love the challenge and thrive on it going forward.

If she has been consistently involved in other long-term activities but is clearly just miserable in this one, you may want to let her quietly retire. Make sure the problem isn’t a mismatch of your child and a certain coach or program, or perhaps a mistaken entry into a group that is too advanced.  At times a change of venue, trainer, or team can make a significant difference – especially when the new environment emphasises positive encouragement.

Either way, if this activity proves to be a dead end, don’t berate her for it. Allowing her to maintain her dignity will accomplish far more than any trophy on the family shelf. And the experience can be a teachable point moving forward.

© 2018 Focus on the Family.  All rights reserved.  Used by permission.

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