When Your Child Wants to Quit, Tell Them This

When your child wants to quit, there are a few things to consider before you say anything.

When I was a freshman in high school, my basketball team was small.  In fact, it was so small that we didn’t have a freshmen or JV team.  My coach was tough.  He had high expectations and conducted physically and mentally demanding practices.  I suited varsity, but only got in the last minute or two (if we were winning by enough).  Essentially, I only had the opportunity to play in practice.  However, I battled, knowing that next year could be my year.

The beginning of my sophomore year was different.  It was a huge disappointment for me.  I still found myself sitting on the bench, going in the last minute or so when my team was up big.  The basketball season is a grind, and I don’t care what anybody says, winter sports (basketball and wresting) are the most challenging.  The weather is cold, it gets dark at 4:30, it’s long, there are 3-4 games a week at times… it’s exhausting.  The weak will not survive, and at that time, I was weak.  I begged my parents to let me quit.

What I Learned for When Your Child Wants to Quit

They didn’t say no, but they gave me a condition.  I could quit, IF I approached my coach and asked him about my role, and what I could do to get better.

Approach Coach P? To me, this was an absolute nightmare.  I didn’t sleep that night.  The entire school day, I didn’t hear a single word my teachers said, because I was so focused on how and when I would approach him.  I decided in math class that I would do it after practice that night.

Practice flew by.  It always seems like when you are dreading something, time races to the moment.  I took my practice shoes off, put on my sweats, and walked across the gym to what felt like my execution.

Coach was sitting in his office, already creating a scouting report for the next game.  I asked if I could talk to him, and as soon as I sat down, I started sobbing. I was thinking, “OHMYGOD OHMYGOD EMMA STOP CRYING,” but I couldn’t.  My disappointment and self-doubt all exploded into a disastrous ball of emotion.  So here I was, bawling in front of the man I feared most in this cold dark world… and I mean bawling, and do you know what he did?  Coach gave me a huge hug.

He let me talk (at least through my sobs), and then he let me listen.  He was honest.  He told me that I wasn’t ready.  I was too weak to be on the floor when it mattered the most, I didn’t work hard enough in the offseason, but he told me that I had potential, and asked me to stick with it.

I am honestly crying as I write this, thinking about how grateful I am for that moment with him, and for the guidance from my parents.  I finished the season, despite a lack of playing time, and worked hard that summer. The next year, I played in every single game.  I was awarded Honorable Mention All-Conference, and our team made it to the substate regional final, where I had 15 rebounds against IKM-Manning.


Emma Walker
Emma Walker is a twenty-six year-old high school English/Language Arts teacher at Atlantic High School in Atlantic, Iowa. She is also the Head Varsity Volleyball Coach, and Assistant JV Basketball Coach for the Atlantic Trojans.

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