Opinion: Teaching our Kids About Making and Keeping Commitments

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Whether your children are involved in sports, music, theater or academics, most extra curricular or recreational activities involve being committed to a team. Often times, kids can become bored with the same routines and activities. This leads to a continued lack of interest and, in some cases, the desire to drop the activity altogether. So, we ask, is it acceptable for children to give up in the middle of something that they’ve committed to?

The Wizard of Oz from Kidz Kabaret in Naperville (www.memyselfandjen.com) When my daughter Maggie was five, we learned about a no-audition theater company in Naperville called Kidz Kabaret. She was intrigued at the idea of singing, dancing, and acting on stage. After learning what would be required of her should she want to participate in an upcoming show, Maggie understood that it was a big time commitment and yet she still wanted me to sign her up.

The production that she would be a part of was “The Wizard of Oz” and she was cast in several supporting roles, some of which had a few lines of dialogue to remember. Additionally, she had several songs and dances with choreography that she would need to learn. The rehearsal season for a show is about ten weeks, once per week, and then it intensifies in the last two weeks as the cast practices on stage with costumes and sets.

About eight weeks in, Maggie came to me tearfully and said that she wanted to quit. She was frustrated at the amount of work, she didn’t like that she had to practice at home, and “it was hard”. I gently reminded her that we talked about the work that would be involved before she had even signed up and that she made a commitment to her cast. I explained to her that it was important she finish what she started and if she really didn’t enjoy the experience after she was finished, she would not have to participate again.

Maggie fought through it and ended up loving the experience so much that she has gone on to participate in five additional shows. But the story isn’t in that she found an activity that she truly loves. No, the real story is that I didn’t let her off the hook when she was getting frustrated by the increasing demands of the program. I didn’t allow her to quit on neither herself nor her team. As parents, we usually only want our kids to be happy, regardless of the impact on others. We never want to see them struggle, but, for me, teaching my daughters that honoring commitments to others is a valuable tool that will only benefit them later on in life.

So, I ask you, would you have let your child quit? Have you ever been faced with a similar situation and how did you handle it?


  1. Carolyn says

    I don’t let my kids quit either. I have never known an adult who said “I’m so glad my parents let me quit_____”. It’s a good lesson learned for each of them.

  2. says

    I think it depends on the situation.
    I had the same situation with Anna when she was five and in ballet which in our community is a year long commitment.
    She stuck it out but never did ballet again.
    Ella was in swim lessons last summer for three weeks when a new male instructor took over.
    She was so frightened of him that she would sob before class.
    I did that two more times before I dropped her from the class.
    She isn’t a quitter from seeing that example.
    And she learned to swim on her own a week later.
    Great post!

    • Jennifer Evers says

      Absolutely, Kari. There are always exceptions. Swimming lessons are a great one – I think it’s more important that your child learn to swim than to be stubborn with an instructor that your child doesn’t bond with. That doesn’t have an impact on other people like quitting a team sport does.

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