4 Ways Your Kid is Sabotaging Herself and How You Can Help
- He is afraid of failing: Some people are willing to put in the hard work but fear trying and failing. It is easier to shrug off falling short if you do not really try. Dr. Andrea Weiner, child psychologist, author, and parent coach, encourages parents to develop in their children what she calls "gritty behavior". Emphasize effort over winning and long-term goals over short-term awards. Dr. Weiner explains, "Besides gaining the confidence in their abilities, they also learn that effort and perseverance allows them the success of achievement not just for the short term but more importantly for long-term goals."
- She wants a life: Perhaps practicing means missing out on too many dances. Maybe standing out is frightening. Or possibly, someone has even teased her for the activity. Suddenly, a much-loved activity does not seem so appealing. Shana Dieli describes her own decision to quit soccer as a teen as being socially motivated: "I was young, had a new boyfriend, and I wanted more free time." Parents can help teens problem-solve a way to enjoy their youth and continue to grow as an athlete, musician, or chess master. Look outside your immediate school district to help your teen find friends who share her interests. And parents can draw on their own experiences to help teens see the bigger picture: "Not only will you increase your college options, one day, you are likely to meet interesting people with a shared interest through your activities." Your teen may even be hoping you will be the scapegoat so she can tell friends, "Sorry, my mom says I have to practice." Be honest about your own regrets and your motivation--you just want to help your child make a positive decision for herself and be proud of her unique talents.
Whatever the reason a child has for wanting to quit, this is an important learning opportunity. Most experts recommend that, assuming there is no safety concern, parents insist kids fulfill any commitments, such as finishing a season, before quitting. With a little time and guidance, teens may find they can overcome their fears or find the strength to stand out or rise to any challenges.
Dr. Weiner emphasizes, "The manner in how a parent "pushes" a child to continue towards their desired goal has to be done in a way that is neither punitive nor judgmental or children will fear not succeeding and failing in the eyes of their parents."
Ultimately, though, we may have to accept the fact that this particular goal we value may not be our child's dream. If she has talked the decision over in a mature way and finished any commitments, forcing her to continue may just create resentment. Keep the door open to reconsidering in a month. Help her find and pursue her own dreams. The connection we build with our children and the life skills we teach them in weighing their options and considering long-term consequences far outweighs the fleeting glory of any Junior Miss "Star Power" Crown.