What To Do When A Young Child Wants To Quit

Dear Dr. Bill,

Several months ago our 5-year-old son asked to be enrolled in Tae Kwon Do.  He has enjoyed this and likes it when he gets to the class, but we’ve recently experienced struggles with him not wanting to go.

We don’t want to push our son toward something just because WE think it’s a good idea.  But we also don’t want him to get the idea he can quit something just because he doesn’t feel like doing it anymore.  How do we find the right balance on this issue?


Dear Jerry,

Many parents have the same struggle with their kids.  They enroll them in a sport or activity, plop down a fair amount of cash on a uniform or equipment, and then their child loses interest or says they want to quit.

In your situation, the first question I would ask is this: was the Tae Kwon Do class your idea, or did your son truly have an interest in signing up?  It’s great to encourage our kids to try new things, but we should never push them into an activity that may not fit with their natural giftedness.

If your son begged to sign up for Tae Kwon Do because he had a genuine interest in the sport or some of his friends were doing it, that’s a different story.  In that case I think he should be required to stick with it, at least until the end of the current cycle of classes or the end of the school semester.

The only exception to this would be if there is a legitimate reason why he doesn’t want to go to class.  Could it be that his instructor is too hard on the kids?  Is your son smaller or less coordinated than the other five-year-olds in the class?  The best way to determine if that’s the case is to observe him during one of his classes.

If it’s simply lack of interest or a problem with follow through, I believe your son should stick with it, at least for a pre-determined length of time.  On the other hand, if he isn’t physically, socially, or intellectually cut out for a certain sport or activity, it’s a bad idea to force him to engage in it.

Thanks for writing, Jerry.  If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” tab on the Family Expert page.

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Shine Family Expert