You are here

Cures for Quitters

Tweens love the idea of learning to play the guitar like a favorite pop star or being on a sports team, and they'll beg and plead for expensive lessons or equipment. Why then do parents have to nag them to practice and go to class  -- when signing up was their idea in the first place?

Often kids aren't aware of the work and commitment involved. "When the classes stop being fun, they lose interest," says Cathryn Tobin, M.D., author of The Parent's Problem Solver.

But letting a child drop an activity too early on sends the message that it's okay to give up when he faces challenges. Some strategies to try if getting your child to tickle the ivories is like pulling teeth:

* Rule out a problem. Sometimes there's a real reason behind a child's reluctance  -- a teacher who scolds or an intimidating coach. Check in with other parents to see if their kids have complained, and sit in on a lesson or game. Reigniting a tween's enthusiasm could be as simple as finding a new teacher or team.

* Get him psyched. To show your child how hard work pays off, take him to games or performances that feature his sport or instrument. And point out that his idols, whether they're rock stars, dancers, or athletes, couldn't have gotten where they are without years of practice.

* Never use bribes or rewards. It'll undermine his self-motivation.

* Take a wait-and-see approach. Have your child agree to stick with his activity for a specific time period  -- for the rest of the school year, say, or until the lessons you've prepaid are up. After that, the two of you can reevaluate whether he should continue. Talking it through will help him be more realistic about what's involved before he moves on to the next big thing.