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When is it OK to let your children quit?

Experts weigh in on whether parents should allow children to quit

DETROIT – No matter what your children are into -- whether it's sports, dance or music -- at some point, they will want to quit. Should you let them? Local 4 spoke with an expert about this dilemma.

Brooke Brown, 11, loves playing sports.

"My dad sort of introduced me to basketball because he used to play, and it sort of just stuck," Brooke said.

She's a point guard on a travel basketball team and a competitive swimmer.

"I've been swimming since I was little," Brooke said.

At times, her practice schedule can get pretty intense.

"I didn't want to quit, but I sort of wanted to take a break because it just didn't feel fun at the time," Brooke said.

"Both of them, at various stages, have said either, 'I need a break,' or, 'I don't want to play anymore,'" her father, Clifford Brown, said. "What I've typically done is give them a month or two off, then say, 'Hey, let's get back at it.' A lot of it is knowing your child and truly know what is behind your child saying that they want to quit. If it's just a function of quitting -- in our household, we just don't believe in quitting. It's not about the sport. It's really just about life."

Sports psychologist Jason Novetsky works often with young children.

"I always talk to my athletes about challenging obstacles, and, 'Is it enough to make you a little bit nervous?'" Novetsky said. "Then it's probably a good goal."

Novetsky said in most cases, letting a child walk away from something they've committed to isn't a good idea.

"In my perspective, there's two types of quitting," Novetsky said. "You have one where a young athlete wants to come to you in the middle of a season because things aren't going well for them and their team and they just simply want to say, 'I quit. I don't want to go anymore.' I would say at that point, probably not -- not going to allow them to quit because you want them to honor their commitment. They said they wanted to sign up. They committed to the team. The team is counting on them. You, as a parent, made a financial and time commitment, as well. So we want to teach them that once they make a decision to a group of people or to a team, or to themselves, that they want to honor that commitment and finish it out."

Luke Wooley, 12, plays the drums, guitar and piano.

"I've always loved music since I was a baby," Wooley said. "It was just always in my heart, no matter what. I practice about two hours a day."

His father, Adam Wooley, is a teacher and high school varsity baseball coach.

"(Some people think) because I love baseball -- for instance, right -- your kids are going to automatically love baseball, (but) that just might not be the case," Wooley said. "One of the worst things that you can do, I think, from a parental and from a coaching perspective, is you hear the term 'living vicariously' through the athlete or through the kid. I think it's something that if we really dove into it -- I think when you sit down with a parent one-on-one, everybody would agree that we should be working to work what's in the best interest of the kid."

Experts believe parents should do a little digging to get to the bottom of what's really going on with their children.

"Try to dig," Novetsky said. "Why do they want to quit and what can we do to make it more fun and possibly also set up some opportunities for them to have more mini goals each day. How can we get a little bit better each day so you can learn to have more fun, because progress is fun? If you can see that you're making progress, you're less likely to want to quit at that point."

Novetsky said fear is often a driving factor, especially for young children.

"A lot of times kids don't want to look bad, so they're afraid of what other people think, how they look, how the sport or how activity is impacting their ego," Novetsky said. "Typically, they're afraid they're not going to be successful, and so at that point, we want to help them make many goals to help them make progress in their sport."

Experts also said they often have to remind parents that their job is to parent, not to coach. When parents start to act as both, it can often cause problems, experts said.


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