Sports, music, clubs, community service and other extracurricular activities will soon become very important in the college admissions process. They paint a picture of who your child is and how they choose to spend their time. Deciding which and how many activities to pursue can be a challenge. Deciding when to quit a particular activity can be fraught with indecision as well.
What do you do when your son or daughter wants to quit something? Do you let them? Or do you force them to stick it out? Consider these factors first:
Why do you want to quit?
A close friend of mine, Jeff, recently faced a "should I quit?" scenario with his 8th-grade daughter. When Jeff asked for my advice, I suggested that he use my 3-Step System. He agreed to put it to the test.
Jeff's daughter had been a soccer player for the last 10 years. A few weeks ago, she started playing volleyball for the first time. After her 4th practice, she asked Jeff if she could quit. Jeff asked her why and she told him that she stunk and that everyone was better than she was. She was playing "down" with the 7th-graders and still wasn't keeping up. Jeff then asked her if she thought she would like to play more if she was at least as good as the average girl on the team. She said yes. She also told him that she has many friends on the team. Jeff told her that they'd continue their conversation later (to buy himself some time). Here was his calculus:
Later that night they discussed the situation again. She understood that she needed to stick it out for the season given the money that they had already spent. Jeff also planted some seeds about how good she "could be" if she stuck around long enough to improve and catch up to the others. She seemed encouraged.
The jury is still out. She has another few weeks before Jeff finds out if she wants to sign up for another season. From his observations, he says it's about 50/50 that she will not continue. Unfortunately, he thinks she still might "let go" before giving the new sport its due.
"Life is a balance between holding on and letting go."
When things get tough, do we encourage our children to double-down and hold on? Or cut their losses and quit?
We've all heard stories about the little girl who hated piano lessons for years - until she got very good - and eventually grew to love the piano so much that she went to Julliard to study music. She held on.
We've also heard stories about the young boy who was dragged kicking and screaming to the pool every morning at 5:30am for swim practice, only to quit the sport in high school and never swim again. He should have let go.
The next time your child tells you that they want to quit something - buy some time. Then consider the three factors above. Decide whether it's worth it to encourage them to hold on - or whether it's the right time to let go. No easy answers here. Welcome to parenthood.
Author: PrepWell Academy's Founder, Phil Black, has spent a lifetime cracking the code on the world's most competitive programs: Yale University, Harvard Business School, Navy SEALs, Goldman Sachs, Entrepreneurship, Shark Tank, etc.
Inside PrepWell Academy, Black teaches students everything they need to know about the college admissions process in a series of expertly-timed, 3-5-minute, weekly training videos starting in 9th grade and continuing through 12th grade [Note: this program can only be joined in 9th or 10th grade]. My specialties include military service academies, ROTC scholarships, Ivy League, and student-athletes.