What to do if your child want’s to quit Jiu Jitsu? – Part 1
Benjamin Franklin was quoted saying, “nothing in life is certain except death and taxes”. I’d like to add to this and say that success and failure is also certain, and all we want in life is to be successful but success means different things to everyone.
It is tough being a Jiu Jitsu parent, but it is even tougher when your child tells you they want to quit and you see the benefit of what the sport has to offer. As a parent, all I want in my life is to know that I have given my children opportunities that will empower them for the future and know that there will be times where they will fall and rise. This has been the most important lesson I have tried to give them. However, quitting has never been an option in anything they have done and they have always been required to see everything through to the finish.
In today’s society as a coach I’d like to say I’ve seen everything (clearly not) but when I see parents ask the child or allow the child to make financial decisions, I shake my head and wonder where did this come from?
These financial decisions I am talking about are related to the sport of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and it is from the purchase of uniforms to allowing the child to quit! As a parent it is our job to make financial decisions for our children, sure there might be times where you would like to give them a feeling of ownership within the decision however, it is the parent that is going to hand over the credit/debit card or cash.
The sport of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is hard. It is unlike Australian Rules Football, Rugby Union or Netball as it is combat based. It is all about time spent on the mat, learning, refining and testing oneself under pressure. The child is going to be sore, tired, lose and win. They will feel like not going at times or may even be intimidated by one of their teammates because they always get beaten by them. If it hasn’t happened to your child yet, it will. They may even want to quit. Our question has to be why they want to quit and how can I get them to remain focused and stay with the sport.
Before you allow your child to quit, as the parent or guardian you have to ask yourself these simple questions; does the place you train at have a positive influence on your child, are there good role models, does the place you train at provide a friendly and comfortable environment and is the coaching consistent? If the answer is yes, the why would you allow your child to quit?
Sometimes our children start Jiu Jitsu because their friends participate in it which is fantastic as it can help take the anxiety away when they first get on the mat, other times it is because the parents have heard from other people about the sport or even the child has indicated they would like the opportunity to experience the sport. Very soon the realisation sets in about how difficult the sport is when they may be being bested on the mat. The child may feel as though they are no good and compare themselves to their friends forgetting that that person may have been at training for a considerable amount of time longer than them.
The sport may not be in ‘vouge’ as their friendship circle changes and other external influences dictate what the child may be interested in. However, if you the parent or guardian sees the benefits that the sport of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu provides then you need to formulate some strategies that will see your child move past this change in attitude.
Parents pushing their children either during or after training, badgering the child asking questions why they didn’t do this or that when they have no idea of what it is like to step on the mat and experience being dominated by another human. Or parents just allowing their child to stop so they can try new things (which is fine but if this is a regular occurrence we may be allowing a bad habit to creep in).
So your child wants to quit, what can you do to change this attitude?
Firstly you should try to communicate with the coaching staff to let them know what is happening. This is important because the athlete may be close to being recognised for their time on the mat and their skill set by being awarded a stripe or belt. This may assist in correcting the course of the child. Communicating with the coaching staff may also give the coaches the opportunity to communicate directly with the athlete, find out what the challenges are and help them find their place again.
Forcing children to do something they don’t want to do is always a fine line to walk as you can make them resent what it is you are trying to achieve, so take that out of the equation straight away. Depending on the age of the child teaching them about commitment and seeing things through until they are completed is the best way about change their attitude. ‘Quitters never win, and winners never quit!’ If we allow our children to just quit a sport because it is not cool, or because they want to try something new doesn’t teach the child about commitment. It also won’t teach them the importance of dealing with hardships either. If they have the opportunity to quit when they want to then they will never understand what it is like to truly achieve a long-term goal.
Teaching children about consequences is very important. As the parent you will know your child better than any Brazilian Jiu Jitsu coach and if you have paid for a 12 month training schedule the child needs to understand that there is a cost involved should they quit. Remember earlier when I asked the question of who lets their child make the financial decisions for the family? Well if the child quits before the end of the obligation that they were committed to the parent still has to pay, it might not be on the remainder of the Jiu Jitsu membership but it will be in other forms.
Giving the child athlete some time off is not a dumb idea. The sport is very hard on the body and different to a normal fitness routine. The body is pushed and pulled, put in awkward positions and squashed. Everyone that participates in the sport get sore and it does not get easier. Taking a week off can be a good thing especially if the child is having a negative attitude towards the sport. In this time off take the time to sit and watch a Jiu Jitsu match on YouTube or show the child the clubs Facebook or Instagram page and see if they can find themselves in it. These things will enable the child to reconnect and keep the fire inside burning.
Meeting the child halfway can work in that you may suggest that they train once or twice a week as opposed to four or five. After one of the training sessions it may be an opportunity to take the child to their favourite restaurant or do something fun. This too will enable you to connect with the child and they understand that there is a ‘reward’ post training.
At the end of the day we all want to have strong, confident and resilient children that understand that quitting is never the best option. It is our job as parents to help them make the right decisions and understand consequences.
Reg is a first degree black belt that has travelled and trained extensively around Australia. He is a competitive black belt competing at the national and international level.
Our blog page is used to give you an opportunity to gain an understanding of the training that is conducted with our Academy.