Quitting vs. Failure

What do you do when your 8-year old decides she no longer likes soccer halfway through the season? Do you ask her to stick it out so that she’s not a quitter? Do you teach her to follow through with her commitments? Do you let her walk away?

By Momentous Institute | Sep 30, 2015
Quitting Vs  Failure

Tomorrow is the first day of our Changing the Odds Conference, and one of the speakers we are most looking forward to is Jess Lahey, author of The Gift of Failure. In her book, Lahey talks about the difference between quitting and failure.
 
What do you do when your 8-year old decides she no longer likes soccer halfway through the season? Do you ask her to stick it out so that she’s not a quitter? Do you teach her to follow through with her commitments? Do you let her walk away?
 
Lahey believes that you should let her quit. She says that as kids move up through higher and higher levels of competition in sport, they’ll (almost) all eventually have to decide when to walk away. Very few will make it to the professional level. Kids learn valuable lessons from sports – teamwork, fitness, sportsmanship, time management – and they’ll carry those lessons with them even when they’re no longer playing. But, as Lahey says, above all sports should be fun. Professional athletes make it where they do because they love their sport. If your child is no longer enjoying herself, including her practices, it might be time to walk away.
 
But what about the commitment? Lahey says that children often don’t understand the complexity of team sports when they begin the commitment. Parents usually sign them up, and even if the child asks to join, she might not really know what it all means. Parents sometimes believe that they’re building up character by asking her to stick with something she is no longer interested in, but in fact, the child is playing out of obligation and not out of enjoyment. Childhood, and sports, should be about creating fun, positive experiences and memories.  
 
Lahey says, “As they progress from team to team, and league to league, or give up sports completely, children rely on parents to anchor their family team and provide the kind of unwavering support that can help them through their most humiliating and humbling failures. In those moments, they need us to remind them that as long as they show up on the field and do their very best, in sports or anywhere else, we will keep up our end of the bargain and show up on the sidelines to cheer them on.”

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