When your budding gymnast, pianist, soccer player, or scientist wants to throw in the towel, it's hard to tell if he's done for good or just needs a break. Here's how to react when your child loses his passion for an extracurricular activity or hobby.
- Don't lose your head. When your child drops the bomb, avoid using the "Q" word (quitting) derogatively. Whatever is triggering her decision — maybe she wants to explore something else and her current activity is holding her back, or maybe it's just not that interesting to her anymore — make sure to discuss it before dialing the coach.
- Do ask why. Though you have fond memories of your son making a last-second shot to win the basketball game, perhaps he's grown tired of the sport or doesn't like being on the team. When you ask why he wants out, you can often figure out what measures need to be taken — instead of quitting, maybe he would enjoy the activity more on a less competitive squad, or with different kids.
- Don't immediately sign up for a replacement. It's great to have a hobby. However, in many cases, quitting stems from feeling too much pressure. So if your daughter has just given up riding horses, don't fill the time with something else right away.
- Do remind him he can always try again. It is important for your child to know that going back is an option. Just because guitar lessons don't fit into his schedule right now doesn't mean he can't pick up his pick six months from now or try a sports team again next year.
- Don't push. If after awhile, your child wants to return to the hobby she quit, take it slow. After all, you poured time, money, and energy into her passion the last time around. If she quit ballet because she was burned out on thrice-weekly lessons, but now misses dancing, try one class a week. See if the slower pace agrees with her before committing to more.
- Do suggest alternatives. If your child liked some aspects of his hobby, but didn't fully connect — perhaps he liked the action of an organized sport, but wanted something more personal and disciplined — suggest something that combines the two. (In this case, karate lessons may fit the bill.) Then see if a new interest blossoms.
- Don't worry. You want you child to find her niche. But pushing her to stick with art classes when she finds them boring isn't the way to develop a talent. Instead, try to expose her to different hobbies during the year: When school's out, a general summer camp is a great place to try all sorts of sports, arts and crafts, and more. During the school year, encourage her to try out for a team or join a club. Even if nothing sticks right away, she may eventually stumble upon an extracurricular she can sink her teeth into.
- Do be supportive. Be patient and let your child explore a variety of hobbies. You may learn that your football star has a talented eye for photography, or that your singer could be the MVP of a lacrosse team — if he has the opportunity to give new activities a try.