When Kids Give Up Too Easily


Our culture does not encourage perseverance. If we don’t enjoy something then we give up and try something else.  If something takes a little more effort, it’s easier to stop, rather than stick to it.  There are thousands of people who have signed up for a years contract at the gym and have given up within the first three months.  And this applies to children as well.  Parents give in too easily to their children’s requests like: “I don’t want to do football anymore – it’s too cold” “Whats the point of practising my guitar, I hate it, it’s boring” “Tuition is boring, I don’t want to go anymore” And then as parents, we become confused because on the one hand we want to give our children freedom to express themselves, to make their own choices but on the other we want them to learn to see things through for their own good. So how do we tread this difficult line?

I got a call from a young mum yesterday whose 6-year-old daughter has been attending my centre for 6 weeks.  She said she wanted to stop the tuition because her daughter didn’t want to do it anymore and was throwing a tantrum in the background 5 minutes before her lesson.  The mother, who also has 2 other children was “fed up” and I think that she had given up.  So who’s in charge here? I asked her.

1.  You need to explain to your daughter that not all education is fun.  When your daughter struggles with a maths problem and then gets the answer correct, it gives her an enormous sense of achievement.  If our children never struggle, they will miss out on knowing what it’s like to achieve.

2.  You need to finish what you start.  Leaving a course half way is like abandoning a vegetable patch in the middle of summer.  It will take hard work on your part because you will be the one bringing her to lessons.

3.  There is a purpose to having this extra tuition.  Your daughter will become more confident in class and will have a better understanding of the work at school.  She has gotten used to the teacher and is making good progress.  This will make your life easier because she will not struggle as much with homework.

4.  Given the choice of having tuition or playing with siblings at home, ALL children will choose to stay at home.  So it’s not just your daughter.  My son does this as well.  Children pick up signals from their parents and your daughter probably knows that if she cries and has makes a fuss she can get away with doing anything.

So my advice is, to carry on regardless of how many tantrums and fights you have to put up with.  In the end you are the parent and you are in charge. Perseverence is a life skill that everybody needs to develop and maintain.

I’ll finish with some inspiration from the great Mohammed Ali.

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5 comments on “When Kids Give Up Too Easily

  1. I agree with you that perserverance is important. But just to give the flip side of the coin, I think all education CAN be made interesting. It is the failure of educators in making so much of it boring. I compare it to food. If people ate only the tastiest foods they would be starting bad eating habits, but if they cooked healthy foods in a more interesting and tasty way, then they would be more prone to eating well.

    Teachers can do a lot more to help make it easier for their students to enjoy their learning. It doesn’t mean kids shouldn’t be more rescilient, it just means teachers can be more engaging too.

  2. Too many parents are letting the children have the final say. Parents need to set rules and expectations, then enforce them.

  3. I too have a son age 10 who attends after school tuition, I have had many tantrums about getting him there and him wanting to stay at home to watch the next american kids programme, that quite frankly is brain numbing.. I have enforced to him that the tuition is not a punishment but purely for his benefit! And that with perserverence he will achieve better grades in class and will stand him in good sted for secondry school. I will not give in and he knows now that for one hour a week he will please his mum, bless him!

  4. Thank you all for your comments.

    Michael, I always try to make the work interesting for the children, but you know a good teacher can make the most mundane topic become exciting. Teachers should have a passion for teaching and must be teaching for the right reasons. There are too many teachers out there who don’t have their students interests at heart and who would much rather line their pockets.
    Having said that though, I have seen some excellent teachers who would do it for free just for the love of it. I eat, sleep and dream about how to make fractions exciting. How sad is that!

    Roycroft, I am a fan of “super nanny” and “world’s strictest parents” because they put the rest of us to shame. Parents these days have different pressures and I think its because working parents feel guilty about not being there for their children. So to compensate, they slack on discipline. There’s nothing like a bit of “tough love”, and it didn’t do me any harm.

    Sue, you are quite right to appreciate that he listens to you and respects your wishes. As children get older you have to reason with them and not just shout orders and expect them to understand. He can see your point of view and knows that it makes sense. But I bet that this is something that you have re-inforce time and time again? Many parents think that just by telling a child “no” once is enough and live in a dream world I think. Rules and boundaries are there to be broken and who knows it better than our children. But it is up to parents to establish those rules and boundaries.

    • You have excellent insight and ideas. I am the product of a military upbringing and have instilled those values into my family. My wonderful wife is a stay at home mom, (imagine that) which makes for a more stable and loving environment for our two year old. When our little Emma enters into the American school system it will not be a government school, rather a private school of our choosing. That is another topic of discussion. Thank you for an excellent and informative blog.

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