I know that sounds harsh but we have our reasons. Now I firmly believe there are certain situations and reasons why parents should let their kids quit. There could be issues with the coach, the sports organization, bullying, concerns for your child’s safety etc. But when I say we don’t let our kids “just” quit, I mean we don’t let them quit for no good reason like, “it’s just too hard”. Our quitting rule really only stand during the season too. If they really don’t want to play before signups, we won’t sign them up. We will talk to them to find out the reason why they are making that decision and make sure that’s what they really want to do. So if they really don’t want to play before the season starts, then they won’t play. We don’t want to force them to continue.
Our older son has been playing since he was 5 years old. He’s now going on 12 and he’s up in U-13 soccer. He decided he wanted to sit out Spring soccer this year. We weren’t sure why because he has always liked playing so we asked him. He told us he just wanted a break from it. There were also some things he wanted to work on before playing again in the Fall. He also had a couple end of year school projects they were working on and wanted to make sure he had the time for them. When he was telling us these things, I just looked at my husband and said, “Wow, is our son actually showing us a little maturity?!”
Our younger son has also been playing since he was 5. He’s now 7 and he was excited to play again. He loves playing soccer and while he was in U-6 and U-8, he did really well. This season, he moved up to U-10. We didn’t realize he was moving up until after the season started. When our older son moved up in that division, he was almost 9. But it’s been a few years since then so at some point, our youth soccer organization changed the ages for the divisions. My husband and I wasn’t sure how this was going to work moving up with 9 and 10 year old’s. We kept our concerns to ourselves because we didn’t want them to deter him from playing right from the beginning.
And he wasn’t deterred. We just told him he was moving up and that they were going to be on the bigger field. The fact that there were going to be older boys on his team and also playing against older kids didn’t bother him. Until practices started. The first practice was fine because it was more about learning who all their teammates were and getting to know their coach. After the second practice our son was getting upset that he wasn’t as fast as the older boys and he didn’t know as much as the older boys. He felt like he wasn’t good enough anymore to play. So we had to have a talk with him about being the youngest on the team (there’s actually one other 7 year old) and that the other boys have been playing longer than he has. They have also been playing in this division longer and already know a lot of the stuff his coach was teaching them. We also had to remind him that those older boys started where he was at one time.
So the next few practices went a little better but he still wasn’t completely happy. He kept saying it was too hard and he didn’t want to play anymore. This is where our no quitting rule comes in. The season already started and we weren’t going to just let him quit because things were a little too hard. That’s something we instill in our kids with everything. It’s just like schoolwork or learning something new. You don’t just give up because something is too hard. You get help if you need it and you keep practicing and working at it until you understand and get it. When it comes to youth sports, we also instill what it means to make a commitment to something. When signing up to play on a team, you are making a commitment to your teammates and it’s also something we want them to understand for anything that they do in their life. Sometimes when you make a commitment, sometimes you don’t have a choice but to break it but you don’t just break it because of it being to hard.
His first game was a nightmare. He only played maybe 3 minutes and then told his coach he didn’t want to get back out there and didn’t want to play. So once again when we got home we had to have another talk with him. We also talked to his coach as well and explained to him that he was a bit intimidated by the size of the field and the way the older kids played. So his coach told him he could play defense every game. After we talked to him and his coach talked to him, he’s been playing every game ever since. He likes it on defense because even though he still gets kind of nervous, he’s been playing pretty well. Every game now, he is having more fun and learning and getting better at playing his position each time. He’s really starting to enjoy playing again and is looking forward to practices and upcoming games.
We want to make sure we teach them to just never give up because things are too hard. I’m glad our son didn’t. By sticking with it and encouragement and support from us he was able to continue to learn and he gets better and better the more he plays. He gets a bit more of that confidence back each time. I’m not sure yet if he will want to play again in the Fall. I hope so because he really does love it.
Time will tell.