Shift Your Focus from Giving Up to Moving On

As parents and educators we encourage children to keep going, put in the effort, stay determined – all great words of advice.  

We feel happy and proud when children want to try new activities, new skills and new ways of doing things. However, if they decide they have done their best and now want to move on and do something different, we can feel let down and disappointed. Children want our acceptance, especially when they worry that they may have disappointed us.

If your child or student does decide to move on, these 6 steps will help you move past your  own feelings of disappointment:

1. Shift Your Focus.

If you are feeling frustrated, disappointed, stressed or anxious at the thought that ‘they gave up’ – shift your focus to being grateful that they had the courage to tell you how they are truly feeling. It’s important to remember changing course takes courage.  Transitioning can be hard on us because we are often blinded by the potential we see in our children or we could be reflecting back on the missed opportunities of our own past.

2. Notice the Reasons

The reason your child wants to move on is important. Instead of finding out what is really driving their desire to move on, you may find yourself saying things like, “Keep at it. Just work a little harder. Don’t give up now; you have put so much work into it!” Sometimes children are enrolled in an activity or skill that does not match their ability or interest, and in some cases, it’s simply no longer fun or their interests have changed and evolved.

3. Validate Emotions

Sometimes, kids want to stop an activity because of the anxiety and stress from trying something new or being in a new social situation. When you feel them struggling, the trick is to let them know you have their back. By identifying and validating their emotions you are showing compassion, empathy and support. We don’t want our children giving up on something they truly enjoy doing just because they are feeling a BIG EMOTION.

4. Encourage Positive Self-Talk

How we handle their decision to move on influences how they see themselves. Our disappointment and the words we use can affect their self-confidence and their ability to bounce back. Over time what children repeat to themselves determines their belief about themselves. It’s important that  we encourage them to use words that show respect to themselves. Words like:

I can do this.

I am capable and I am enough.

I choose to put in the effort.

I can succeed.

I am learning.

I can ask for help.

I just haven’t achieved it…YET.

5. Reframe ‘Giving Up’

By supporting your children’s decision to shut the door on one interest, you are opening the door to another opportunity that might be a better fit. Helping them focus on what positives they learnt from their experiences will help them keep moving forward. It’s essential to encourage children by praising the strategy they tried, the choices they made, and the effort they put in and of course compliment their character.  

6. Praising Character

Even though they have chosen to move on it’s important to praise your children for how far they have come. Let them know the character traits they used to get there. For example: ‘Well done! I admire how you chose to be determined and brave by giving that activity a try.’ This allows them to see that these are the character traits they need to take with them for the next time they try something. Knowing their strengths will allow them to never give up on themselves.

It’s OK to move on to the next project, the next skill, the next relationship, the next adventure. Moving on is something that we have all experienced at one time or another. The key is: ‘Never Give Up On Yourself’.

Until next time…