Why Does My Child Keep Quitting?

Angry boyIs your child quitting everything they start? Need a Commitment Overhaul?

Here is a letter from a parent to Dr. Robyn Silverman asking about why her child keeps quitting his activities. What’s interfering with her child’s commitment level?

Dear Dr. Robyn,

I hate to admit it, but my child is a quitter.  Knowing the Powerful Word of the Month at our school this month is commitment, it seemed that now was the perfect time to ask what’s going on here.  I don’t want to raise a quitter.  Have any ideas on why a child quits everything they start?

–Jan K, Baltimore, MD

The question of commitment and quitting comes up every time our Powerful Words schools present Powerful Words like commitment, determination, attitude, or goal-setting.  As Powerful Parents, we want our children to show commitment and determination.  So what’s making them quit?

Children quit for all different reasons.  Some children feel bored while others feel overwhelmed.  Some children have unrealistic expectations that they are going to be performing the kind of martial arts, gymnastics, swimming, or other sport that they see “in the movies” or in the Olympics on the first day that they attend.  Other children see “today’s activity”  simply as another activity that they do—easily interchanged with football, basketball or dance lessons– so why stick with one thing?  Still other children feel invisible to the instructor, picked on, misunderstood or scared when they take class.

The first major reason for quitting is the instance of a curriculum-based clash. Simply put, when children feel overwhelmed or under-challenged, they will want to quit.  After all, when something is too difficult or too easy, it isn’t fun anymore! The over-challenged child may feel as though he cannot keep up, catch up, or otherwise progress at the pace that the other children in class are progressing.  The under-challenged child may feel uninterested, disinterested, or just plain bored.  You can determine this if your child would rather play with friends than go to class or fights you on practicing when they used to find it exciting to do so. Whatever it is, there is clearly a clash between the child’s learning level and the curriculum they’re learning at this time.  These children will surely start looking for other ways, whether it is in football, hockey, dance or marching band, to fill their time and hold their interest– sometimes, they just keep moving from activity to activity looking for something to hold their interest.  It’s important that we delve into this issue with our child because it’s easy enough to move our children to a different class, get them extra help, or have them take some extra classes to address this issue.

The second major reason for quitting is the case of the value-based clash. If you, as a parent, don’t value what the child is learning at their current activity,  the child will often sense it and want to quit.  For example, if you regard their current activity, like martial arts or gymnastics,  as “just another stop on the way between football and piano,” the child will too.  After all, a child will want to quit something if it has little or no perceived value to the parent.  Children tend to take their cues from their parents—so when Mom and Dad don’t care, neither will they.  As parents, we need to make sure to check our own attitude when determining why our children might be quitting.  If we can adjust our own behavior and attitude, our children will too.

The third major reason for quitting is the often elusive personal-based clash. When children or parents feel uncomfortable at an activity, uncomfortable around a coach or teacher, uncomfortable around another child or another parent who is there at the same time, or undervalued by staff, they will likely want to quit.  Perhaps there has been a misunderstanding or a miscommunication.  Boundaries may have been breached or buttons may have been pushed in some way.  Perhaps the most common personal clash is when the child perceives that the teacher or coach doesn’t “like him” or “care about him”.  It’s vital to find out if something happened between your child and another person in the class so that the issue can be addressed and any misunderstandings can be cleared up.

The fourth major reason for quitting is the instance of the situational-based clash. While the above reasons have a negative undertone causing a “falling away” or a “falling out,” situational clashes are due to an actual lack of money, resources, or ability to continue.  When families do not have the money to pay for lessons, the car to get their children to your class, or the person to bring the child to your school, they will likely need to quit.  There may have been a divorce or a death, a new job opportunity, and illness or a lay-off that caused this situation to arise. Schools and sports facilities are often very sorry to see these students leave, given that they would stay if they could.

Finally, the fifth major reason children might quit is…because they can! We want to make sure that children aren’t creating a pattern of quitting that is being supported by their parents.  Sometimes, we are just too overprotective or too easily swayed by our children’s attempts to get out of fulfilling their promises. While it is easier to have children quit something that making them stick it out til the end, children learn their patterns early.  If they see that they can quit without consequence, they will learn this as a fact and quit whatever feels uncomfortable, challenging, frustrating or boring to them as they develop and become teens and adults.  It may not seem like a big deal when they are 8 years old but it certainly becomes so when they become 18 or 28 years old! Set positive patterns now so that they learn commitment and the benefits of seeing goals and promises through to the end.

Make sure to ask questions rather than lecture.  Why do they want to quit?  Did anything happen in class? Are they bored? Overwhelmed? How do they feel about their friends in class? Their teachers? Is the curriculum too hard? Too easy?  And also, remember, to watch what you say and you do.  If you are quitting your activities, or someone else of influence in your home or family is doing so, children will learn volumes about the loop holes in commitment.  Take your cues from your child’s Powerful Words instructors this month and expand on what they are talking about in class with your children. Discuss it at the dinner table and in the car.  Tell stories about your own triumphs and how you stuck with something even when it was difficult. Talk about the importance of seeing the end and setting goals. And of course, set the precedent that your family always finishes what they start– everyone should have that “no quit, go-for-it attitude!” that helps each member to lead with commitment– and your children will surely learn to follow suit.

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Ask Dr. Robyn: How do I teach respect in my home?

Ask Dr. Robyn Silverman: Creating a Respectful Environment in My Home (Video)

Every parent has trouble with disrespect in the home from time to time.  Children are going to test boundaries, push your buttons, and learn about risk and consequences. It’s part of growing up! Of course, parents need to teach children respect, expect respect, and model respect if they’re going to get it! Dr. Robyn Silverman answers a reader’s question about how to create a respectful atmosphere in the home and provides 10 tips on the ABCs of respect.

Everyone has New Years Resolutions. The one thing I want to concentrate on this year is making sure my home is a place of respect. With 3 growing boys, it can get kind of rowdy in here. I don’t mind the noise but I do mind disrespect in the house. Even my husband and I have gotten caught up in it. It’s got to change. How can I set the tone for respect in my home for 2009?         –Lisa B, Tulsa, OK

Related articles:

Mommy, I hate you!

You’re Bothering Other People!

Dr. Robyn Introduces the Powerful Word: Respect

10 Tips on Teaching Respect

Send Dr. Robyn a question!

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Stuck, Stagnant and Stymied: Defining your Who, What, Where, When, and Why for 2009

calendar for goal setting

Stuck, Stagnant and Stymied:

Redefining your Who, What, Where, When, and Why for 2009

Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

Where did the time go? Didn’t we have definite plans for 2008? Goals? We were going to get to it. But alas, we didn’t. And now it’s January…2009.

My gosh, we waste a lot of time. Procrastination comes in all forms. Email. We searches. Blackberries. Yes, and we know who you are.

Alright; I’ll confess. I’ve just entered the world of FaceBook. Go ahead, “friend” me! It’s a really cool tool that’s reconnected me with friends and colleagues of the past and present. This is both positive and negative. More connections can lead to heightened opportunity, greater feelings of unity, and growth. More connections can also lead to more senseless yapping on the internet, addictive checking of messages, re-exposed high school wounds we would have liked to have left untouched, and yes, lots and lots of wasted time. I sometimes find myself searching around for blasts from the past without any good reason for doing so. And no, curiosity isn’t really that good of an excuse.

We’re quick to blame other people and our “situations” for our lack of concentration and progress. But at the beginning of the New Year, perhaps it’s time to reclaim our control and ask ourselves what’s really happening and how WE can take action to fix it. Let’s make 2009 the year we get “it” done! After all, aren’t we all sick of mediocrity?

(1) Who? It’s time to get honest. Who can you be around and still get the work done that needs to get done? Spouse? Friends? Pets? Who hurts your progress? Who distracts you? Who makes you feel incapable, incompetent, or anxious?

(2) What? Break it down: What do I really have to do? What are the bite-sized pieces that I can put on my to-do list? What’s the plan for today, this week, this month—and what’s my overarching timeline? What can keep me on track?

(3) Where? We often forget to think about our location and how it serves (or doesn’t serve) us and our specific purpose. Where do I flourish, feel productive and make progress? When I look at where I work, what should the space look like for maximum productivity? Where do I lose my focus? Where am I more apt to succumb to distractions? Get honest with yourself. Perhaps a location-change or a space-overhaul is just what you need.

(4) When? Many of you, just like my coaching clients, are not just parents, teachers or business owners. We wear a lot of hats. Still, we do need to take control as best as we can. Ask yourself; When it my best time of day for innovation, business maintenance, or strategic planning? When is my worst time? When do I get tired? When we determine our optimal “when,” our plans become real and certain.

(5) Why? The “why” of our business determines motivation, inspiration, and enthusiasm for every project. Ask yourself; Why am I doing this? Why do I care? Without a “why,” your life will feel empty, dull, and pointless. Whether you do what you do for the good of yourself, the good of your family, or the good of mankind, make sure the reason is compelling so that it consistently inspires you to move forward every day.

First, breathe.  Stand back and really think. You may need a great success coach to work through it all with you. These simple yet powerful overarching questions will inspire you to determine the answers that are vital to your success. Get honest with yourself, answer the questions, and allow your responses to shape the circumstances of your success.

COACHING CLASS! As a success coach, I’m setting up another parenting coaching group for motivated adults who want to make 2009 their year for goal success. Interested? SPACE IS EXTREMELY LIMITED. This group is starting very soon- please let us know that you plan on participating. Fill out the form on my website and I’ll send you more information! PowerDay retreats also available.

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Got Goals? The 7 Deadly Downers that Dash Your Dreams

New Years Resolution and Goal Setting

The 7 Deadly Downers that Sabotage Your New Year’s Resolutions:

Help Your Family Obtain Goal-Setting Success!

Dr. Robyn Silverman

Have a New Year’s resolution? Watch out.  These 7 deadly downers can sabotage your goals.

Many POWerful bits of information come in 7s. Seven numbers in a phone number, seven days in a week, and seven wonders of the world. Most people say that their favorite number between 1 and 10 is seven. Of course, seven can showcase the bad things of this world as well, such as the seven deadly sins to avoid.

And now…

The Seven POWerful Downers that Hold People Back from Goal-setting Success! After all, the January 2009 Powerful Word of the Month is Goal-Setting– so we want want our children and families to be on the look out for these negative words.

(1) No: Such a small word but like an ant, powerful for its size. It’s arguably one of the most powerful words in the
English dictionary. Definitive by nature, it requires no other explanation for what it means. It’s the enemy of progress
and the dasher of dreams.

(2) Can’t: This word is a mind-trick. “Can’t” is the little voice inside our heads that tells us what we are not able to do.
Even if we’ve never tried it or attempted to do this thing this particular way before, “can’t” has already decided the outcome.  Tacking on a simple apostrophe and that one little letter “t” to the end takes this word from emphatic and positive to pathetic and negative.

(3) Won’t: Won’t is our inner child throwing the proverbial tantrum. “Won’t” is bratty and uppity, immature and insistent in getting its way. With folded arms, nose up in the air, and a smug look, “won’t” will easily cut off its nose to spite its face.

(4) Never: A POWerful Downer indeed. “Never” is infinite permanence. “Never” robs us of our power of choice for the
future. What feels impossible today is assumed to be insurmountable in the future despite changes in circumstance,
wisdom, and guts.

(5) Maybe: This word is just plain wishy-washy. It means nothing. Neither gutsy enough to say yes or direct enough to say no, “maybe” provides little hope for progress when there has been no definitive commitment.

(6) If: This tiny word is full of it. Projection, that is. “If” blames others when things don’t go its way. “If” takes the onus off of itself and lays it like a monkey on someone else’s back. It has the power of negating everything said before it with just one small insertion. It whines and begs for someone else to do the work or just simply, make it happen.

(7) Someday: While this word seems genteel enough, the reality is, it wants to sell you a bill of goods. It’s a snake-oil salesman. “Someday” is procrastination in action-there is no commitment, no follow-through, and no progress. “Someday” might tease someone-it might play a trick or two on the brain, but someday has no power for good until someday becomes today.

Actions may speak louder than words, however, these words bark loudly in one’s head. In this next year, you can make a choice to fill your mind with “yes,” “I can,” “I will,” “always,” and “now” or the Powerful Downers detailed above. They are your goals, your dreams, your hopes, and your life. Take back the power.

Here’s to Powerful Goal Setting and Goal Getting Success in 2009!

Please kindly press the digg button! Thanks!

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7 Ways to Help Your Child with ADHD

Helping Your Child Cope with ADHD

Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

The other day I wrote about ADHD and it’s recent link to obesity and overweight. It brought up a few questions about how to address some of the typical issues that plague children with ADHD and how to best support children who are coping with the effects of ADHD.

I’m currently getting ready to present to a large group of after-school educators in Orlando, Florida on teaching children commitment, determination and stick-to-itiveness, but I wanted to take a moment to give you at least a few tips on how you can help your child with ADHD:

(1) Advocate for them to get services in school: Your child has a special condition that makes them eligible for special accommodations such as: Sitting closer to the front of the room and the teacher, shortened homework assignments and longer testing times.

(2) Get everyone organized: Many children with ADHD (as well as many people in general!) have trouble when things are not organized and also may have trouble organizing him or herself. Teach your children how to stay organized by providing specific places for the children to put things when not in use and sticking to a schedule as best as you can.

(3) Set and keep home rules: Be sure to set easy-to-follow rules that have clear and consistent consequences. If rules are broken, be sure that the consequence is enforced and appropriate.

(4) Reward positive behavior: It’s easy to focus on the “bad” when children are impulsive and unfocused. This is no time to “let sleeping dogs lie.” Be sure to reward your children for positive behavior with praise and attention. Let them know you appreciate them and their effort.

(5) Don’t “go it” alone: There are many people available to help. Your physician, your school officials, and your after-school activity teachers are on your side. If your child attends a Powerful Words Member School, this can be a very positive and fun way to help your child feel that they are making physical strides while at the same time learning values such as focus, determination, respect, and impulse control in their Powerful Words character lessons. As this month is “determination month” you can help your child set a goal and go after it—a great skill-building and self-esteem building month for children with ADHD as well as ALL children!

(6) Be a Positive Role Model: Show your child with ADHD as well as all your children how to stay organized, stay determined, and try again when things don’t go as planned. They are looking to you to see how you react! If you stay calm and handle things with grace, they are much more apt to follow your lead in time, than if you tend to fly off the handle when plans get changed or fall short.

(7) Don’t Compare: Allow everyone to strive to their personal best. Comparing your child with ADHD to other children, especially those within the family or close friends of the child, will only serve to embarrass and denigrate your child. It will NOT motivate them! Reward the effort your child puts in as well as the small successes he or she achieves. If s/he stays determined and reaches his or her goal, this is cause for celebration NOT time for comparison with others who may have done it better, quicker, or more neatly.

And of course, remember to breathe. Your ability to take each day as it comes and celebrate the good in your life and in your child’s life will go a long, long, way.

Have a Powerful Weekend!

Powerful Role Models: Seven Ways to Make a Positive Impact on Children

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They want to be just like you. Are you being a positive role model?

A role model is someone whose behavior is imitated by others. Of course, there are good role models and bad role models. There is even the counterintuitive anti-role model who behaves so badly that s/he serves as a good example of what NOT to do.

We all hope that children have good, strong role models who possess the kind of qualities that make our sons and daughters want to be (and become) better people. While there is some variation in every parent’s definition of what it means to be a good person, the following 7 characteristics of a positive role model remain constant.

Positive role models;

(1) Model positive choice-making: Little eyes are watching and little ears are listening. When it comes to being a role model, you must be aware that the choices you make don’t only impact you but also the children who regard you as their superhero. Someday, they will be in the same predicament and think to themselves, “What did s/he do when s/he was in the same situation?” When you are a role model it’s not enough to tell your charges the best choices to make. You must put them into action yourself.

(2) Think out loud: When you have a tough choice to make, allow the children to see how you work through the problem, weight the pros and cons, and come to a decision. The process of making a good decision is a skill. A good role model will not only show a child which decision is best, but also how they to come to that conclusion. That way, the child will be able to follow that reasoning when they are in a similar situation.

(3) Apologize and admit mistakes: Nobody’s perfect. When you make a bad choice, let those who are watching and learning from you know that you made a mistake and how you plan to correct it. This will help them to understand that (a) everyone makes mistakes; (b) it’s not the end of the world; (c) you can make it right; and (d) you should take responsibility for it as soon as possible. By apologizing, admitting your mistake, and repairing the damage, you will be demonstrating an important yet often overlooked part of being a role model. (This point began some great conversation on parents and role models in the comments below and here.)

(4) Follow through: We all want children to stick with their commitments and follow through with their promises. However, as adults, we get busy, distracted, and sometimes, a bit lazy. To be a good role model, we must demonstrate stick-to-itiveness and self discipline. That means; (a) be on time; (b) finish what you started; (c) don’t quit; (d) keep your word; and (e) don’t back off when things get challenging. When role models follow through with their goals, it teaches children that it can be done and helps them adopt an “if s/he can do it, so can I” attitude.

(5) Show respect: You may be driven, successful, and smart but whether you choose to show respect or not speaks volumes about the type of attitude it takes to make it in life. We always tell children to “treat others the way we want to be treated” and yet, may not subscribe to that axiom ourselves. Do you step on others to get ahead? Do you take your spouse, friends, or colleagues for granted? Do you show gratitude or attitude when others help you? In this case, it’s often the little things you do that make the biggest difference in how children perceive how to succeed in business and relationships.

(6) Be well rounded: While we don’t want to spread ourselves too thin, it’s important to show children that we can be more than just one thing. Great role models aren’t just “parents” or “teachers.” They’re people who show curiosities and have varied interests. They’re great learners and challenge themselves to get out of their comfort zones. You may be a father who’s also a student of the martial arts, a great chef, a good sportsman, and a treasured friend. You may be a mother who’s a gifted dancer, a solid rock climber, a celebrated singer, and a curious photographer. When children see that their role models can be many things, they will learn that they don’t need to pigeon-hole themselves in order to be successful.

(7) Demonstrate confidence in who you are: Whatever you choose to do with your life, be proud of the person you’ve become and continue to become. It may have been a long road and you may have experienced bumps along the way, but it’s the responsibility of a role model to commemorate the lessons learned, the strength we’ve amassed, and the character they’ve developed. We can always get better, however, in order for children to celebrate who they are, their role models need to show that confidence doesn’t start “5 pounds from now,” “2 more wins on top of this one,” or “1 more possession than I have today.” We must continue to strive while being happy with how far we’ve come at the same time.

While it may seem like a great deal of pressure to be a positive role model; nobody is expecting you to be superhuman. We certainly wouldn’t expect that behavior from the children who are looking to us for answers and guidance—nor would we want them to expect that kind of flawless behavior from themselves or others. You can only do your best. And, if you mess up today, you can always refer back to tip #3 and try again tomorrow. Good role models earn multiple chances from the children who believe in them and know they can do anything if they simply put their mind to it.

Here’s to a Powerful Week!

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Having Fun with Children on St. Patrick’s Day

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St. Patrick’s Day doesn’t have to just be fun for the Irish! Any child can have fun with St. Patty’s Day activities as a symbol of the coming of spring and the fresh color of green!

Part of teaching children to be open-minded and accepting of others is teaching them about different holidays celebrated around the world.

With such a great response to the Leap Year post, here’s a few easy answers about St. Patrick’s Day for kids.

Who was St. Patrick?

According to the Christian faith, St. Patrick was the patron saint of Ireland. He spent 6 years in captivity. St. Patrick escaped and began 15 years of religious training and finally became a priest. He is believed to have died on March 17, 460 AD. (Read more about St. Patrick).

What is the history of St. Patrick’s Day?

While St. Patrick came from Ireland, the first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place on March 17, 1792 when the English Military marched through New York City. Now, many people of different backgrounds celebrate St. Patrick’s Day—from the United States, Canada, Australia, Ireland, Japan, Singapore, and Russia. Recently, Ireland started putting on parades, concerts, theater productions, and fireworks as part of their St. Patrick’s Day festival in order to drive more people to visit Ireland and see what it has to offer. Close to a million people came to Ireland for St. Patty’s Day last year.

Why do some people wear green on St. Patrick’s Day?

The color green is associated with St. Patrick’s Day because it is the color of Ireland, the season of spring, and the color of a shamrock.

What kinds of St. Patrick’s Day activities can children do?

Not Irish? Not Christian? Not religious? Any child can celebrate St. Patty’s Day as a symbol of spring!

Decorate a Paper Shamrock: Cut out a shamrock and have the children decorate it with paints, feathers, crayons, tissue paper, and green glitter. (Read more like this)

Make an Irish Headband: Have fun with green construction paper, twisted pipe-cleaners, and shamrocks! (Read more about this)

Design a Shamrock Wreath: Cut out a bunch of Shamrocks and make a wreath! (Read more about this)

Pick a Pepper and Paint: On St. Patty’s Day, peppers aren’t just for eating—they’re for making shamrock prints! (Read more about this)

Some other crafty resources here and here

 

Have a fun day!

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