Dear Ilana and Jess: My kids have a problem: they’re repeat quitters. Anytime they sign up for an extracurricular, they want to stop within a week. How do I get them to stick with it? - Kyle
Dear Kyle: This is one of many things you can control as a parent. Since you’re allocating time and (presumably) money to these activities, you should set the boundaries around commitment.
As soon as the kids express interest in an activity, have them do the research. In the process, the kids should find out: how often meetings/practices/rehearsals are, what goes on during each, the duration of the commitment long-term (e.g. how many months until the big concert is done/season ends?), what equipment is necessary to participate, etc. Then, ask the kids again if they’re interested. If the answer is, “yes,” have them make their case, so to speak. The kids should be able to give examples of how and why they’ll enjoy the activity.
Set a timetable. If you agree to let the kids participate in an extracurricular activity, establish a contingency at the onset. Require that they see their commitment through to the end. Alternatively, require that the kids commit for a set amount of time before deciding to quit. For example, if the kids want to try a school club, you may say that they have to stick it out for at least six weeks before they swap it for a new club. This helps ensure that the kids are altering course because they’re genuinely uninterested, not because they didn’t give it a chance. Remember that some activities, such as sports or theater, are reliant upon participants to see their commitments through. Explain this to the kids and don’t let them fail their teammates.
When your kids honor their commitments, they develop integrity and self-confidence. Give your kids the opportunity to navigate learning curves so that they don’t equate them with failure later in life. Along the way, they’ll build grit and perseverance.
Say This: “I’m glad you’re interested in this club/sport/activity and open to trying new things. Before you sign up, you need to know what you’re getting yourself into. I want you to find out what the activity involves and how much time it’s going to take. Then, if you’re still interested, we’re going to agree on a minimum commitment. For example, if you’re going to do baseball, you’ll have to honor your commitment to the team for the full season.”
Not That: “No more extracurriculars. You always ask me to sign you up and then you quit.”
Say This, Not That is based on the work of Cognition Builders: a global, educational company headed by Ilana Kukoff (Founder & CEO) and Jessica Yuppa Huddy (Chief Learning Officer). Everywhere from New York City to California to Shanghai to Zurich, the Cognition Builders team is called upon by A-list entertainers, politicians, CEOs, and CFOs to resolve the conflicts that upend everyday life. When their work is done, the families they serve are stronger than ever. With their new book, Say This, Not That To Your Teenage Daughter Kukoff and Yuppa Huddy have selected the most common conversational mistakes parents make, and fixed them. For more information, please visit: https://cognitionbuilders.com. To purchase Say This, Not That To Your Teenage Daughter visit: http://publishing.andrewsmcmeel.com/books/detail?sku=9781449488055.
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