This Wall Street Journal article offers a new perspective on the emotionally-charged topic of whether or not parents should allow their kids to quit extracurricular activities. Based on interviews with parents and child mental health experts, the author advocates for a flexible approach. Rather than forcing children to stay with activities they dislike, or the opposite, providing little or no guidance to children about their activities, the article emphasizes using the prospect of quitting as an opportunity to cultivate decision-making skills. If a child wants to quit piano lessons, parents are encouraged to help the child reflect on why they want to quit, develop strategies for evaluating alternatives to quitting, and discuss how to quit in a way that honors the commitment they made.
Psychotherapy offers an ideal space in which to practice these decision making skills. Parents, children and young adults can learn practical and effective ways to reflect on their choices. They can improve their ability to trust themselves and feel more confident in making important decisions. Together with a trusted person, someone in therapy can practice answering questions like: how do they think and feel about the given options? What choice will benefit them now, in the near future and later on in life? The therapist can help them evaluate the options in a measured way. At Wellness Psychotherapy, we often hear patients report that they gradually feel more empowered to make healthy decisions as a result of therapy. Through consultation with their child’s therapist, parents can also enhance their ability for engaging their child in reflective, collaborative conversations that support their child’s budding independence.
1. Quitting can be an opportunity for parents to bolster their child’s decision-making skills.
2. A flexible approach to quitting can strengthen the parent-child relationship by emphasizing collaboration over conflict.
3. Learning to make decisions is a skills set that most people can develop and continue to improve in therapy.
Check out the full WSJ article here