I received a text message the other day from a friend who was asking my opinion about whether or not he should let his 6-year-old daughter quit the gymnastics team at the end of the season, which ends in two weeks.
She has been involved year-round in the sport for two years and trains three to four nights a week for two hours. The meets are held on weekends, usually all day, and often a few hours away from home.
What started as a true love for the sport, along with a lot of success, has turned into her coming home after each practice wanting to quit the team because she’s tired of it.
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My friend said in his text, “I don’t know what to do. I don’t want her to quit, but I also don’t want to be ‘that parent’ who makes her kid play a sport.”
My answer was simple: Let her quit.
The answer would be more difficult if it was midseason and there would be no refund or she’d be letting down the team. But the fact that she is willing to finish the season makes it an easy decision. She has even been promised a spot back on the team the following session if she wants to return after a month off.
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I’m a firm believer that sometimes parents have to make their kids try a sport, or any other activity for that matter. How many of us really wanted to take those piano lessons? But once they do give it a shot, it’s OK for them to decide they really don’t like it.
This includes kids at any age, in any sport. So if your child is telling you now that they have no interest in playing football again in the spring, listen to their reasons. Then make sure they understand once the registration deadline passes there won’t be a chance to change their mind. And if they are still fine with that, let them skip the season.
They might miss it and want to play in the fall. Or they might never play again.
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And that’s OK. No matter the sport or activity.
Jon Buzby has been involved in and writing about youth sports for the past 30 years, originally as a coach and board member with his now-adult son and most recently "just as a dad" with his 8- and 10-year-old sons. Jon is an award-winning writer and his latest book, “Coaching Kids Made Easier,” is available on Amazon. Send comments or future blog topics you'd like to see to JonBuzby@hotmail.com and follow him @YouthSportsBuzz on Twitter.