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PARENTING : When Kids Want to Quit

October 21, 1994|BARBARA GRAY

You have looked for the right after-school activity, enrolled your child, paid the fee--and then the kid comes home one afternoon and tells you the class is terrible. What next?

"There are a lot of steps before quitting," said Barbara Polland, professor of child development at CSUN. Parents should first ask children why they want to stop going--and listen carefully.

Typically, Polland said, the problem is simple, and it's something either the child or the parent--depending on the age and maturity of the child--can communicate to the teacher. Perhaps the youngster had hoped to work with clay, and, up to now, the class has only painted with watercolor. Maybe the student ended up in too young a group of children.

Polland said that in most cases it's important to help young ones learn that a commitment to take a class should be fulfilled. Sylvia Rieman, a cooking instructor and teacher at Granada Hills High School, agrees. "Quitting establishes a pattern of not following through," she said.

Yet if a child gets into a situation that is adverse to emotional health, by all means, let him or her quit, Polland advised. There are cases where teachers or coaches can be punitive or extremely negative, and in such situations, the child should not continue.

Rieman also encourages parents to review a youngster's complete seven-day schedule and evaluate whether the child is overdosed on extracurricular activities. The combination of school with sports, religious education and a class or two can be exhausting, and a child's request to quit may be nothing more than a plea for some quiet, personal time, she said.

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