Are we teaching our kids to quit too soon?

I believe children are tenacious by nature- although that tenacity can be selective.

Often I see my own kids diligently persevere for things they want and yet they’ll give up at a drop of a hat when it’s a task they don’t enjoy.

Looking back on my life I’ve realised that it’s my responsibility as their mom to teach my kids to not quit just because things are hard.

In this incredible article family therapists Gary and Joy Lundberg write: “When parents protect their children from experiencing hard things in their lives, they are setting them up for failure.”

Girl playing chess
“Encouraging your children to do hard things will prepare them to successfully deal with the hard things they’ll face as adults.” – Gary and Joy Lundberg

I was 16 the first time I went to college.

Half way through the year I called my Dad and told him I was dropping “Politics” as a subject.

“OK,” he responded.

He went on to say there was no reason for me to take on something that was stressing me that much.

When I told my Politics Tutor I was dropping out she couldn’t understand why.

“I don’t get  the subject” I cried. “It’s hard! And I’m not very good at analysis which is what this subject is all about!”

“But you’re doing so well Hannah!” She answered.

I rolled my eyes and told her I’d decided. That was that.

Shortly after that I got my exam results for that semester- I’d made an “A”.

I couldn’t believe it because I’d thought I totally SUCKED at Politics!

I’d found questions difficult to answer in Tutorial and Discussion Groups…

My mouth would hang open when my peers answered. I’d marvel at how smart they were- and how stupid I looked in their presence- but then in the exam I got an “A”! And might I add that very few of us scored an “A” for that paper!

I still dropped out anyway- thinking the grade was sheer luck. Also I didn’t want to go through the grueling time I’d had with that subject again.

But. What I didn’t realise at the time was how much I’d need the analytical skills Politics taught for my career in Journalism.

When I started working, for a long time, I envied some of my peers who had insane analytical skills. They understood structures of politics that were crucial for our work. It took me a while to get up to speed- if only I’d stuck with the subject in college!

Since university I’ve had other tough times- most times I’ve just quit.

But then you get to a stage in life when the stakes for quitting are way too high.

I came to realise that my “quit” mechanism came from despising the ridicule and shame of failure.

I was bullied badly in school, so I never took part in anything. Even when there were things I enjoyed and was good at- any kind of ridicule led to me bowing out and never trying in that area again.

For years I lived that way; I know for sure it’s no way to live.

My (almost) three year old son is a bucket of fire works. He’s smart but gets terribly frustrated completing tasks he battles with. I push him.

I sit with him calmly encouraging, “Try again- you’ll get it but you have to try.”

At times I stop him- look into his frustrated eyes and say- “Breathe my boy- be calm- don’t get mad- but you’ve got to try again.”

I don’t do it to punish him. I do it because even this young I don’t want my boy giving up on things just because he deems them difficult.

There are times when we need to walk away from things because they’re not right for us- but to walk away because “its’ hard” often robs us of attaining things that may bless us in ways we never imagined- if only we pushed through.

I’ve been watching Gold Rush  on the Discovery Channel. My favourite mine operation owner is 19 year old Parker Schnabel. (Yeah all his staff are MUCH older than him!)

Paker Schnabel
Youngest Gold Rush Miner Parker Schnabel

No matter what this young man faces- he finds a way.

It seems whatever comes against Parker is a mere distraction from his goal.

Time and time again I’ve watched him trump the obstacles- no matter how seemingly insurmountable.

In the last season we watched no one had mined more gold than Parker- not only was he the sole miner in that season to reach his target, he surpassed it!

I think the reason he’s so amazing at it is because he finds ways around the obstacles- it could be, that, because of his youth he hasn’t learned “impossible” in mining yet- who knows…

What I’ve learned after all my years of quitting is that it achieves nothing.

I wouldn’t have so many “What Ifs” had I pushed a little harder- or at the very least had just stayed in the game!

My parents were great at many things- but they allowed me to quit way too often. I believe we do our children a grave injustice when we allow quitting to be their default option.

Of course it’s harder to fight and stay in the game- way harder.

The easy stuff is fluff. It melts away as easily as cotton candy- the hard stuff, that’s what lasts. It’s what makes life uber rewarding, splendid and worthwhile.

Sure it’s stressful at times. BUT. There is way to get it  done. Do not let the “difficult” in the equation deter you from the prize.


Before you go you’ve gotta watch one of the most amazing videos I’ve ever seen! Nothing could’ve put my point across better!


Hannah Viviers is the Creator and Host of the Dream BIG TV Show. 


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