25 answers

Should I Let My 4 Year Old Quit?

Hi Ladies,

My 4 year old begged me to sign her up for a ballet class and now half way through the year, she wants to quit. She is very outgoing and seems happy when I pick her up and is always talking to other kids so I can't figure out why she doesn't want to do it anymore. When I ask her she won't really give me a reason and she just says she doesn't want to go anymore. Although I'd like her to keep going with it(and not just because of the money we paid for the class, clothes, and shoes), my inclination is to let her quit because she's only 4 and really doesn't need to be taking ballet especially if she doesn't want to. But I'm worried that if I let her quit it might start a bad habit and she'll think that if something gets boring or if she isn't in the mood she can just quit. She did this last year with soccer - she wanted to sign up because her cousin played soccer and she seemed to be having fun playing the games but all the sudden wanted to quit. We encouraged her to stick with it and by the next week she was excited to go again. Anyway, I guess my question is this, how do you know when to make them stick with something and when to just let it go?

I know there really isn't a right answer to this, but if you could share your experiences and thoughts on this that would be great!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you so much for all of your responses and suggestions! I should have explained the situation better because there seems to be a lot of concern that I was just dropping her off somewhere on her own. Her ballet class is at her preschool and its right after preschool is over so the parents usually show up early to pick their child up so they can watch some of the class. I do usually watch most of her class (although my two year old does make that hard) and she seems to be having fun most of the time. After talking to her more this week, I think she just wants to come home after preschool rather than staying for the extra class because she's tired so I decided to let her quit this time. I'm sure this won't be the last time she changes her mind about something though since she always wants to sign up for everything - so I really appreciate all of the advice - I'm sure it will definitely come in handy in the future.

Featured Answers

Hi K.! I have a 17 year old daughter that has been involved in many activities over the years, softball, gymnastics, dance, soccer, etc. I always told her once we signed up and made the commitment, we had to stick with it until it was over (including things she did when she was small 4 or 5 years old). If she didn't like it, she didn't have to take it again, but once we enrolled, she had to complete it. I have to say, she has never quit anything and has always stuck with whatever activity she chose. I personally think it made her a more responsible person as well as taught her not to just quit when she had a hard time with something, that she had to hang in there. I also think it built her confidence as well.
If I were you, I would stay and watch her class while she took it just to see what was going on. That may give you some insight on how she's feeling. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Set a goal. You have to make it to the recital or you have to stick with it until this date. Sometimes kids want to give up because they don't see and end. Once she reaches the goal, if she still feels that way then let her.

1 mom found this helpful

I would make her stick it out. My daughters dance also. The 6 year old always hates the going there, but once we're there, she's fine. She just isn't good at transitions. Most dance schools are planning a recital or show for the end of the year already. They are learning the routines and this time of year can get boring, practicing to perfect. If you let her quit now, there will be a hole in where ever her spot was that they will need to fill. She made a commitment to the class and she needs to follow through. Maybe next year she might like something more exciting like tap or tumbling. Ballet is not the pink fluffy tutu's that most little princesses think it will be.

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers

Since she is so young, I would let her quit, but let her know that the next time she signs up for something she will have to stick it out to the end.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi K.! I have a 17 year old daughter that has been involved in many activities over the years, softball, gymnastics, dance, soccer, etc. I always told her once we signed up and made the commitment, we had to stick with it until it was over (including things she did when she was small 4 or 5 years old). If she didn't like it, she didn't have to take it again, but once we enrolled, she had to complete it. I have to say, she has never quit anything and has always stuck with whatever activity she chose. I personally think it made her a more responsible person as well as taught her not to just quit when she had a hard time with something, that she had to hang in there. I also think it built her confidence as well.
If I were you, I would stay and watch her class while she took it just to see what was going on. That may give you some insight on how she's feeling. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

In my experience as an early childhood educator, most 4-year-olds are excited about almost anything that's new! They usually just jump in and find it to be a great experience. So if she's that adamant about not wanting to do it, there is probably a good reason beyond being bored. For some reason that we may never know, she feels uncomfortable, and my advice is to let it go.

In the future, you can ease into something new without making the commitment of spending a lot of money on extras, until you find out if she wants to follow through for the long haul. That's important to remember, because the older the children are, the more expensive their activities become! :)

And of course you'll want to continue to teach her that she can't just decide to quit if it's hard. That's something she can learn gradually as she gets older.

But as you said, there isn't any ONE right answer, so you can just think about these things, and whatever you decide will be the best decision because you're her MOM, and mothers really do know best! :)

1 mom found this helpful

My parents rule which I use with my kids is that once you start something, you have to finish it (the soccer season, the year of dance, whatever the time frame is). Once the season is over, they never have to do it again if they don't want to. I think even at four, it is important to teach commitment and responsibility. As long as she is happy, it probably is just that ballet isn't her thing, but it won't harm her to finish the year.

1 mom found this helpful

How is she at home about taking directions or practicing other things? Does she go along and do them or does she get easily bored and walk away from puzzles, games, and children's movies and shows?
I would stay at lesson/practice the next few times and see what is going on at the lessons. She may have just gotten bored with it. It may be several of the positions are difficult and just doesn't want to do something that is a little harder.
I took ballet at her age and mom let me start acrobatic lessons too at 5, I enjoyed the acrobatics much more and dropped ballet at six and added jazz dance class at 7 but continued with actobatics until junior high.
Frankly, when it comes to sports I do think we push a little to hard. We didn't have organzied sports for children under 7 when I was growing up and still produced some awesome athletes and when my son was growing up we didn't start sports until 5. I think that is plenty early.

1 mom found this helpful

Dance class is hard because you get so much money invested in it, and then it just drags out when you're that young. My daughter took dance class also, but she was 3. It was the same as you, halfway through she really didn't want to go anymore. I didn't blame her, when you're young, all you do is the same routine at class, week after week. So, I talked to her and said "If you just wait until you're recital, you get a trophy!" Well, every week, this was our discussion on our way to class. She REALLY wanted a trophy, so she was willing to go, but it was after a lot of convincing. As soon as the recital, she was so done with dance class! She hasn't wanted to back since, and she's 6 now. I try to sign her up for things like TBall that only last 6-8 weeks. She is now in a tumbling class though, and it seems to be going okay. It's a little more mixed though in things they get to do. So, my advice is see if you can give her something to work towards in the end, like a trophy or a special day of some sort. Then, when she's saying she doesn't want to go, you can remind her of her special reward in the end. Tell her that once she reaches that recital, she won't have to go back to dance class unless she wants to. That's what worked for me.

1 mom found this helpful

I have three children 9, 8, and 4. They all dance, play piano, and do a sport a season. They love everything they do. My Husband and I agreed early on that once we put the kids in something they had to stick with it for the season, in the case of dance it is usually August-September to May-June time.

The reasons are:
1. Once you allow them to quite it can start a habit.
2. Sometimes when it doesn't come easy for them they want to get out and we feel they need to be challenged. Life will challenge them and they need to learn how to deal with that. Not everything will come easy.
3. Once the season is over then wait until sign up time comes around and ask do want to do?...in your case dance. By the end she may have changed her mind and think dance was not so bad and do it again. Then she has some say in it, but you explain if we sign you up again then you have to do it until the end of the season.
4. Talk to the teacher maybe she was teaching new steps that she was having a hard time with or maybe she is standing next to someone that is not so nice. Her answer may be to quite to get away from whatever is really bothering her. If you can find some reason and give her some coping tools then she can work through it. Like if someone is not so nice have her pick another place on the floor to dance or ask the teacher to move her and sometimes it's the teacher, next year you could always find a new dance place.
5. When I was young I wanted to play the flute. My parents had to buy the flute and make sure I practiced. So they had talked to the band instuctor and he told them that until I had taken lessons for about three years it would be work...learning how to play, the notes, and how to read music. After that it would be come some work and more fun. I was told that because they were spending the money on the flute that I had to take at least four years and practice every night. I knew this going into it and I ended up playing until College. But....I learned to stay with something and keep trying until I made it.

1 mom found this helpful

I would make her stick it out. My daughters dance also. The 6 year old always hates the going there, but once we're there, she's fine. She just isn't good at transitions. Most dance schools are planning a recital or show for the end of the year already. They are learning the routines and this time of year can get boring, practicing to perfect. If you let her quit now, there will be a hole in where ever her spot was that they will need to fill. She made a commitment to the class and she needs to follow through. Maybe next year she might like something more exciting like tap or tumbling. Ballet is not the pink fluffy tutu's that most little princesses think it will be.

1 mom found this helpful

Set a goal. You have to make it to the recital or you have to stick with it until this date. Sometimes kids want to give up because they don't see and end. Once she reaches the goal, if she still feels that way then let her.

1 mom found this helpful

K.,

She's only 4. Let her quit. Don't use this against her to deny her trying other new things. She's just trying things out in life! How is she going to find out what she likes and is good at if she doesn't experiement a little in the beginning of her new life. Now, if she gets to be 14 years old and has a history of not following through on big ideas, well.... That's a different matter. :) Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

K.,
I would make her stick to it. It is perhaps a change in teachers or a friend no longer goes.Or maybe she just isn't getting a certain step/ routine and is being told so by the instructor.Kids hate to fail at something. If it were my child I would be sure she finished the classes you have paid for.Try talking to her about it more and find out what the problem really is.Maybe even speak to the instructor and see if there is a reason for this change.

1 mom found this helpful

I had 4 girls and 2 boys who participated in dance and sports, Scouts, etc., and my advice is at the outset to set a time period for the activity...season, year, or whatever, and the child will have to stick to that.
No quitting in the middle.
For example, our oldest son played 1 season of peewee ball and also the next year, but then he did not want to go on so we did not make him play any more.
His brother played all the way to high school.
Your instincts are right....you do not want to teach her that she can just quit if she doesn't "like" it.
Whatever her participation is, it will teach her things and help her to be more well-rounded.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi K.,

If your daughter truly doesn't want to take the classes, I would let her quit. I wouldn't give her any hassle about it either. I wouldn't remind her of quiting ballet later. Here is my reason for this. When I was a child, my mother let me do anything I showed any interest in at all. I tried dance classes, piano, clarinet, Spanish for kids, drama, choir... My mother always told me that she never got to do anything, and I saw how hard she worked for me to be able to do those activities. My parents were divorced and she was working several part time jobs. By the time I was in high school I was still doing most of these activites, but I didn't excel in anything. It was frustrating for me to see my friends really truly enjoying being good at one thing. I enjoyed seeing my friends at each activity, but deep down inside I knew I would never be great at some of those activities. I just couldn't quit because my mom made me feel so guilty since she had never had the chance to do those types of activities. I'm very grateful for all the opportunities I had as a child, but I wish that I would have had a bit more freedom in choosing whether to quit. Kids are smart about what their potentials are. Your daughter is only 4 years old, and maybe one day she will be more interested in doing ballet than she is now. Don't push her, let her just have fun. Next time she is interested in something, see if you can do several trial classes first, rent the equipment for a short time, etc... As for the ballet classes, see if you can find out her real reasons for wanting to quit. Does she think she isn't good at ballet and it's just too hard? Is she being teased in class? Did she make a mistake and someone laughed? Did the teacher say something to upset her? Let her know that if she thinks she isn't good at it and practice won't help, that it's okay to quit. Let her know that if other kids are teasing her that you will try to stop that from happening. If she truly still likes ballet and is making mistakes resulting in the teacher being a little too strict or teasing from the other students, you can help her understand the importance of learning to laugh at our own mistakes and practicing. Just my two cents worth. I hope it helps.

D.

P.S.- I did ballet as well. I think I was 6 when I started ballet. If you do make her stick to the ballet or if you find out she truly doesn't want to quit, don't let her start point too early. I was 10 when I started point, and I totally regret having started so early. Toe shoes really do a lot of damage to your feet. It's been about 18 years since I quit ballet, but my feet are still paying the price.

1 mom found this helpful

Ahhh...memories. I enrolled my daughter in ballet when she was 3, and she hated every minute of it. I practically had to shove her into the dance studio, and she stood against the bar with her arms crossed and cried through the whole class. I kept trying for a couple weeks, and finally decided it just wasn't worth it.

Since your daughter seems to enjoy it once she's there (unlike my little darling), my advice is to encourage her to finish the session, but tell her you won't make her to sign up for the next session. This is a good compromise, and even though she's young, I think it's important to teach commitment.

I should also say that letting her quit isn't necessarily going to start a bad habit. When she gets older, and wants to join something, you can say, "OK, but you have to stick with it. You're not going to quit and waste my money like you did with ballet when you were 4." She'll understand. My daughter is now 9, and she hasn't quit anything since ballet. Dance just wasn't her thing.

1 mom found this helpful

Definitely make her finish out the year. My daughter, now 11, has been doing gymnastics for 6 years, competing for 5. Last year she went thru a "mental" year, afraid of some of the skills she had to do. Hadn't had any accidents other than one minor one..but to her it was huge. She wanted to quit. I told her fine, you can quit at the end of the season (6 months away)..you made a commitment to your coach and teammates and have to honor it. Her team went on to win state. She worked through her mental fears and is half way through her current season. So you never know, your daughter may just be struggling with learning a particular move or something...check with the teacher and make her stick it out. If she wants to quit at the end, let her. My son finished did one season of flag football though we knew from the first scrimmage that it wasn't for him. We still laugh about it!

1 mom found this helpful

you are right about making a habit of it --- once you commit to something you need to stick it out - and she is not the one who committed to it if she is only 4... We as parents need to think over situations very well before we decide that they CAN do it... sure they CAN... will it prosper them if we commit them to it?

Our 6 year old son was invited to a sleepover and we told him no - and explained it to the parents of his friend who invited him... he is not ready - we got a call to come get him from his gramma and grandpas last time he tried to stay there... I didn't want to put them through that situation.

It is important to do what you say you will do. Everytime! If we want our kids to be truthful, we need to be also! In every sense.

Usually, most ballet places have some sort of recital at some point (June?), so you might tell her to stick it out until the recital, and then you can discuss it.

You mentioned that she "seems happy when you pick her up". Does that mean you aren't staying and watching during class? If not, see if dear husband can watch the 2 year old and stay for a class and see how it goes.

We have a 5 year old princess and a 2 year old princess, so I understand. My 5 year old takes ballet classes on Thursday nights, and my husband stayed home with the 2 year old because the ballet place doesn't have a "viewing room" or other sort of room we can take the 2 year old to play in while the 5 year old has class. There is a place in Fishers at 121st and Cumberland that does have a "lobby"/reception area and they have toys there for kids who aren't in the classes. That might be something to look into so that you can bring little guy with you while the 4 year old is in class.

For what it's worth....and good luck!

K.,

I have the same dilemma! My daughter is turning 4 in March and she just started Ballet 2 weeks ago and the second class she didn't want to go in, so I had to come in and sit with her through the whole class, at least the teacher was nice enough to let me do that, but i don't think that will happen everytime! She was sooooo excited at first and now she just says she doesn't want to go, so i don't know what to do as well! I feel that when i was younger and in ballet i didn't really like it either, so i kinda wish i stopped earlier than i did and maybe found something else that i did enjoy???

I am a mother of 3 and our feeling is that once they sign up for something they need to finish it (unless it's harmful to them). My daughter felt the same about her ballet/tap class and I made her finish the year out. She seemed to have fun doing the class, but didn't sign up to do it again which I am ok with. I just want her to try things and hopefully something will click.

I'd have her stick it out thru the end of the year. THEN, if she wants to still quit, she can. You don't quit something just because all of a sudden you don't feel like it. What would happen if you quit cooking, doing laundry, going to work, etc. just because you didn't feel like it.

THIS IS A PERFECT TIME AND AGE to learn these life lessons. You might want to have a chart or something so that she can "see the end" and mark them off each time she goes. Remind her to concentrate on having fun, being with her friends, and enjoying the experience, even if she doesn't continue. EVERYONE NEEDS TO LEARN TO FINISH WHAT YOU START!

You say you go pick her up. DO YOU NOT STAY WITH HER? I have my 4 yr old in dance and we all stay with our kids. Maybe something is going on that she is not liking and wants to quit. My daughter loves it and she has said she wanted to quit 1 time when the routine was hard and I said NO you keep it up you are doing a great job it will take time to get the hang of it and she stayed in and NOW she is doing really good. So I would not let her quit. Stay with her and WATCH her do her cute dance and see what she does and how she is with others there. My thought

I believe in finishing what you start... I don't think 4 is too young to learn that. She could just be learning something that is not easy for her like the other stuff was and thats no reason to quit. Once she finshes the class if she doesn't want to do it next year so be it. My kids are in dance and gymnastics they have gone back and forth from loving it to wanting to quit a couple of times in fact my little one just said this evening she wanted to quit dance. They will finsh the year and not be required to do it next year if they don't want to. This is not only to learn to finish what you start but also due to the money already invested in costumes and such. My parents let me quit when I wanted and to this day I wish they would have had that rule with us I really would have enjoyed some of the things they let me quit if they just would have made me stay.

Hi K.! My 8 year old daughter has been involved with dance, softball, soccer and cheerleading over the last 4 years and we have a rule...once you sign up and join the "team" then she has to stay with it until it's over. My husband & I believe that it does start a bad habit if we were to let her quit in the middle. You said it yourself that this happened with soccer too. I don't think she's too young to understand making a commitment.
Good Luck and like you said there is no right or wrong answer to this....as her mom you'll do what you feel is right for your daughter and family.

How long is the committment? Most activites for that age are 1-3 months long. That's because kids that age have a short attention span. They want to try everything and how are they to know if they like something until they try it? Of course they'll get all excited if a friend or cousin is having fun at a sport, but not all kids like all sports. I always make my kids finish a session - but I make sure the sessions aren't more than 2-3 months long. Chances are good that a 4 year old will lose interest in something within a few weeks.

You said halfway through the year? You mean she has another 6 months? That's an ETERNITY for a 4 year old - 6 months is an eternity at that age. I'd let her quit.

You don't want them to quit but you don't want to turn them off of trying new things. If they think that everytime they want to try something new they may have to endure it for a year then they may stop asking to try new things. I know kids who think that way -- afraid of starting anything new because their parents forced them to continue long after they found out they hated it.

My experience has been with our 8 yr old son where he wanted to sign up for baseball last year. We signed up, and half way through the season he wanted to quit, probably for several different reasons such as their loss of games and he would rather play with friends than stop to go to a game. However, we encouraged commitment. He committed to play and we as parents committed to be at every game and take him to practice. We would need to remind him from time to time, but overall the committment issue provided him with self-confidence, leadership, and lots of fun.

I encourage you to keep on encouraging her.

Blessings,
D.

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