Ask Alex : My kid is bad at everything he tries

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Hey Alex!

I’ll just cut to the chase. I have an 11 year old boy and the kid just isn’t good at anything! I’m not talking about in school or around the house but with any extracurricular activities. We’ve tried sports. We’ve tried musical instruments. We’ve tried hunting. He’s just really bad at everything he tries and he doesn’t seem to catch on at all. Eventually he wants to quit everything because it just gets frustrating for him and I always let him quit. Even though I am his parent there is no doubting his lack of ability. I’m beginning to wonder though if letting him quit each time is doing more harm than good. He is choosing the activities that he wants to try and at this point I don’t even make recommendations to him anymore. We just signed up for Spring baseball. So should I make him stick with it even if he clearly isn’t getting it and isn’t having fun anymore? 


At A Loss


Hey At A Loss!

That must be very frustrating to have to witness as a parent and probably adding up in financial cost with all the failed hobbies. One thing that I like and would like to point out is that your boy doesn’t seem to get too discouraged and just moves on to the next! That is an awesome trait to have especially at such a young age.

Normally I would say allowing a child to quit is not the best route to go. In making them stick with it you are also teaching a valuable lesson about commitments and seeing things through. In your case, however, because your boy seems to never give up on himself and moves on to the next activity, I’m not sure that making him stick it out is best.

It sounds like he is just searching for something that he will excel at and ultimately bring him a little happiness to participate in.

Maybe you could talk to him and set a predetermined exit time for each activity, instead of just allowing him to quit when he has had enough.

For example with Spring baseball, let him know that if he wants to try it out he will have to stick with it no matter what for the entire season. Just explain to him that joining a team is making a commitment to that team.

This would make you not a “bad parent” in his eyes for forcing him to continue and still gives him ultimate control on whether or not he would want to participate. You never know, maybe something will click for him after his giving up point if he just stays with it a little bit longer!




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