One of the best things about youth sports is that it teaches our children the importance of commitment. You have to finish what you start and quitting mid-season would mean leaving your team hanging. Even if you don’t love baseball/soccer/tennis anymore, you made a commitment to the rest of your team and it’s important to see if through. However, there are two sides to every story and your child might have a very valid reason for wanting to hang up their cleats mid-season. If your child comes to you mid-season and wants to quit, the most important thing a parent can do is find out why they want to quit. Their explanation should be what decides whether you let them quit or have them stick it out through the rest of the season.
Are they overwhelmed?
It seems like kids today are more scheduled than ever. If they are jumping from baseball practice to piano lessons to math tutoring and so on, chances are they will burn out sooner or later. There are only so many hours in a day and if your child is feeling overwhelmed they might want to quit something (anything!) just to have a little more breathing room. It might also be worth asking why they want to take sports off their plate and not piano, or math lessons, or the choir, etc. That could tell you a lot about the kind of person they are growing into and help you find their real passions! If it turns out they just don’t like hockey all that much and would rather spend their time doing something else, see if they can just hold out for the end of the season (but if schoolwork or health is suffering obviously something needs to go!) and then just take it off their to-do list for next season.
Are they being bullied?
Other players AND the coaches can be bullies, as sad as that is to say, and no one wants to stay in an environment where they feel harassed and picked on. Does your child feel excluded by their teammates? Are they constantly being teased and taunted? It’s hard to love sports when you hate your team or feel like they hate you. Is their coach a nightmare during practice? Does he/she yell at the players, throw things, or swear? No adult wants to work in that environment so why would a child? Abuse takes many forms (physical, verbal, emotional, sexual) and if your child is being abused in any way through their youth sports connection there is no shame in walking away mid-season. As much as we love sports, being picked on like that is never worth suffering through!
Are you pushing them to play?
Plenty of parents make the mistake of assuming that since they loved playing baseball their child will too! But maybe your son/daughter would prefer to play soccer or swim or do gymnastics. If they are playing a sport just because you want them to it’s impossible for them to have any real intrinsic motivation to get up and give it their all. It’s not that their passion or interest has fizzled out mid-season, but rather that they never had it at all. If you’re the only reason that your son/daughter is playing a particular sport you have to decide if it’s worth having them finish out the season or if they should be allowed to quit mid-season.
Every situation is different, and sometimes kids have one bad practice/game and want to quit because they are embarrassed or frustrated. This happens all the time, especially when kids are learning new skills! So give your child time to vent and calm down and find out if they really want to quit mid-season or if they are just tired and need a day or two to recharge. Other times, forcing your son or daughter to finish the season means leaving them in a bad situation that they shouldn’t have to suffer through. That’s why communication is so important!