5 Top Tips for Dealing with Your Child's Desire to Quit Hobbies

When your child tells you they no longer want to continue with a hobby they once loved, it can be a difficult conversation - for both of you. As a parent, you most likely want to teach your child resilience when it comes to the pursuit of their talents/interests/hobbies, and to encourage them to persevere when the going gets tough or the passion dwindles - they’ll thank you later, right? However, it can be difficult to know when, if ever, you should push them to continue, or if it’s best to follow their lead. In this article, we’ll explore some insights to help you navigate this particular challenge…

1. Consider Why

You might initially be frustrated or disappointed when your child tells you they want to quit, especially if you have already invested lots of time and money into this endeavour or paid for classes in advance. But before getting annoyed, it’s important to consider their reasons why. Ask questions such as:

  • Is someone on the team or your coach making you upset?
  • Is it becoming too hard?
  • Are you struggling to manage your time?
  • Is there anything else bothering you?
  • Is there another hobby you’d like to try instead?

Sometimes, it can be difficult for children and teenagers to pinpoint their feelings, and even more so to communicate them, so it might be that you’ll have to do a bit of investigative work yourself. Think about the following:

  • Is the hobby taking up a lot of their time?
  • Is there anything else going on at school or home that might have impacted their decision, such as moving school/house, social changes, or a loss in the family?
  • Is this a sudden decision or have they shown a lack of interest for a while?

2. Communicate with Others

You may also find it beneficial to speak to your child’s sports or activity coach. This way, you might gain more insightful information, like if they’ve noticed a change in your child’s behaviour, or if they generally seem to enjoy taking part.

While you know your child better than anyone else, their teacher at school will have seen how they behave in a different environment around their peers. You might find it helpful to speak to them about what your child enjoys when they are at school or how they work in a team. This could assist you with a later conversation about finding a new hobby that’s better suited to your child, should they wish.

3. Be Mindful of Your Language

Being considerate of the language you’re using can encourage open communication in your parent-child relationship. By letting your child know you’re proud of them, regardless of their extra activities, can help them to feel supported with any sensitive conversations that may arise in the future. Try to steer clear from phrases such as “quitters never win” or similar, discouraging language that adds to the stigma around quitting.

It's not always easy for children to understand the consequences of their actions. However, now is a great opportunity to try and clearly communicate what quitting this hobby may mean for them. For example, leaving a club will likely result in not being able to see their teammates every week as they usually do.

4. Meet in the Middle

Once you’ve established whether it’s the hobby they no longer like, or if it is the specific circumstance, you may feel it’s best for your child to continue with their hobby for a little bit longer. If you’re sure that their decision isn’t a result of anything negative, you can try reaching a compromise with them by saying something like: “Shall we give it till the end of term and reconsider then?”.

It might be that in a month or two’s time, they’ll have changed their mind or pushed through whatever rut they were in and be happy to continue. It may also be that during this time, you notice how little enthusiasm they have left for their hobby and decide to agree upon letting it go. If this is the case, let them know that if things ever change, they can always pick it up again if they’d like.

5. Respect Their Decision

Though your child is young, it’s important for you to respect their decisions and ideas about who they are becoming. Primary school is fertile ground for your child to explore what they do and don’t enjoy.

It’s no secret that children can be impulsive, so maybe they’re no longer interested in playing football, but they want to learn to play the piano! Now is the chance for them to discover a wide range of hobbies that could even lead to finding their life’s passion. While it may not be viable to entertain their every desire, try to be open to their suggestions and work with them to find out what their ‘thing’ is.