As a jiu-jitsu parent, few things probably bring you more happiness than watching your child represent your family’s name on the mats. Seeing him accomplish everything you wish you could have accomplished at his age and knowing he could grow up to be a world champion can bring tears to any parent’s eyes.
In fact, it is bringing tears to my eyes as I write this.
But what do you do when your child tells you he wants to quit? What do you do when all of those dreams of you and him being the next Rickson and Kron Gracie disappear as quickly as they formed?
Is there anything you can do to help your child regain the love for jiu-jitsu that he (hopefully) had?
The short answer: no.
Like everything in life, a love for jiu-jitsu has to come from the inside.
But there are some things you can do to increase your chances of getting your child back to the gym.
Here are five of them.
Do not try to force her to stay
“Force” means using physical power, threats, or commands to make someone do something she does not want to do. It can mean dragging your child to class while she is kicking and screaming, telling her she is going to jiu-jitsu whether she “likes it or not,” or threatening to punish her for skipping class.
And to answer your question, yes, I have seen parents do all three of these.
The old saying about leading a horse to water holds true in all of these situations, though. Yes, forcing your child will get her to class, but it will never inspire her with the passion she needs to become a truly successful jiujiteiro.
In fact, it will do the exact opposite. Jiu-jitsu will quickly go from being an inspiring journey to a pointless chore she has to perform just to shut you up.
You do not want your child seeing jiu-jitsu as a chore, so ditch the force and help her grow to love jiu-jitsu on her own.
Warn her about the consequences
Avoiding force does not mean ignoring the consequences.
Make sure your child knows what will happen to her if she quits. Tell her that she will not be able to get her new belt or see the friends she has made in class. You may even want to remind her of how all of that time on the mats will go to waste.
Maintain a calm tone when speaking to her, though. If you come off as pushy, you will only make the situation worse.
Suggest he take some time off
Instead of forcing your child to continue with jiu-jitsu or caving into his demands to quit, suggest that he take a week or two off.
As contradictory as it sounds, people do not always quit because they want to quit. They may simply be burned out and in desperate need of a break.
Your child may be one of these people, and giving him a mini-vacation from jiu-jitsu will not only give him time think about his decision, but it may help him recover from his burnout.
Most people need a little time off, even from the things they love.
Jiu-jitsu practitioners are no exception.
Meet him halfway
Instead of letting him quit, suggest that your son simply go to jiu-jitsu less often.
If he goes every night after school, ask him if he wants to go three or four nights a week. If he goes three or four nights, ask if he would rather go once or twice.
Lowering the number of days your child goes to jiu-jitsu is a good middle-of-the-road option because it allows him to train, but also provides him with some relief from an activity that, for whatever reason, he is growing to dislike.
Who knows, he may regret his decision and want to go back to his normal schedule.
Talk to the instructor
If anyone can help you in this difficult time, it is your child’s instructor. Not only has she probably dealt with plenty of children and adults who have thought about quitting, but she may have even battled her own desires to walk away from the art.
Ask the instructor if she can offer any advice. Better yet, ask her if she can sit down and talk with your child.
If she is unable or unwilling to help, your child probably has a good reason to quit her school.