When did quitting become the worst thing in the world? Parents often worry about a child wanting to stop learning the piano or finish their swimming lessons once they have become competent swimmers. Adults can stay in jobs they loathe because they don’t want to feel like a quitter. They can baulk at taking up a new interest or studying later in life for fear of dropping out if it doesn’t work. First year university students don’t seem to worry about quitting – they’re leaving in droves, but perhaps that’s because university has become the norm, instead of an option for those who are really interested in doing a specific course.
Why are we so concerned when our child wants to quit something? Is it because we regret stopping piano or swimming lessons when we were young? Do we fear that they will never finish anything they start and will never be able to commit to anything? Why do we feel ashamed to drop out of a course or change jobs ourselves? Are we worried about how we will look to our friends and family?
Surely it’s important to keep making informed decisions and to teach our children how to make good choices. Why do you feel like quitting? If the activity or job really doesn’t interest you, what is the point in hanging in there? But if you want to leave because you’re afraid that you’re not up to the task or people will discover that you’re not as good as they thought you were, then you may be suffering from imposter fear and that should be addressed.
If you want to quit because your quality of life is really being impacted by the demands of the job or the course, then what’s wrong with aiming for a less stressful existence? But if you concerned that you’re not perfect – you’re not getting high distinctions or you’re not employee of the year, then your perfectionism may need be tackled.
If a child presents a good argument about why they want to stop learning to play the guitar or why gymnastics isn’t for them anymore, we need to listen. Telling them not to quit doesn’t really teach them how to weigh up all the information and make an informed decision. Encouraging them to come up with alternate ways to live and learn is surely a better life lesson than don’t be a quitter.