How to Approach a Child who wants to Quit

My daughter and I were at a ballet. Several months earlier, she had expressed an interest in attending and so we had paid $75 so that we could attend. As the date grew closer, she was already having reservations. I let her know we did not have to attend but in the end, she decided she would still like to go but she wasn’t sure she would like it. During the first half, she turned to me and shook her head, I quietly let her know how long there was till intermission and we decided to stay until then and then not return for the second half.

I did not think about the $75. That money was gone the second I spent it several months ago: there is no way to recover money you have spent.

I thought about the time we had in front of us, time that was still available to spend. We could have pushed ourselves through the second half out of obligation to the money of the past or we could have left and did something we actually enjoyed out of loyalty to the time of the present and ourselves.

This can be a difficult concept to keep in mind, I mean you paid for your child to have a specific experience and when they no longer desire to continue that, it can feel tempting to try and convince them otherwise thinking that the money is a waste if one doesn’t follow through with what it was spent for.

But no matter what you do next, you are still out of pocket the same amount. The only thing you can actually influence is the time in front of you — and really, time is far more valuable, time is far more finite a resource; how it is spent should always be the priority!

The reality is that figuring out what you enjoy often involves figuring out what you don’t enjoy, sometimes a lot of figuring out what you don’t enjoy! A child who is told that they cannot change their mind, is going to be less inclined to try something new because the risk is so high. If they find out they don’t enjoy it, they’ve been committed (by somebody else) to continue not enjoying it… not very appealing.

Commitment cannot be externally cultivated. A child enforced to continue isn’t personally committed, they’re expected and enforced to maintain an external facade of commitment. They have no drive to continue except to avoid the consequences of not; be it the parent’s disappointment, rejection or wrath.

And really is there value in being committed to something you do not want to be committed to?

A child who quits is a child who perhaps hasn’t found their passion… yet. But a child who quits isn’t afraid to keep searching, to keep trying! A child who quits feels validity in their preferences, they understand their right to say no when something no longer makes sense to them.

A child who quits is a child who knows and lives their worth; a far more valuable investment than anything you originally spent money on.

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  1. Love this! My daughter went from tennis, to soccer to netball! The boots, racquets and uniforms all cost money but we never pushed her. On the way to netball she was really scared as I had suggested it but she confessed in the car there she really didn’t know what netball was! On the way to the court I assured her she could watch and not play if that’s what she wanted, just to see what it was like. Other players were missing and the team had no reserves and were one player down. She agreed when the coach asked her to play shooter. By the end of the game she loved it and was smiling form ear to ear. So glad I never threatened her or forced or coerced her to play to save my own face as she now loves it, and wouldn’t miss a match!

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