Good Kids, Bratty Behavior

Problem: Quitting

Fear Factor: "My child will grow up to be a quitter."

Trouble Signs: Kids of all ages want to give up from time to time when faced with a difficult challenge. But you should worry if your child makes a habit of never completing tasks, has a pattern of wanting to drop out of sports or music lessons, and always gives up when the going gets tough.

Fast Fix: Often, kids are quitters because they're afraid of failing or of being humiliated in front of their friends. One way to ease that tension is to talk to your child about the times you've messed up. Emphasize the importance of being patient and talk about how everyone needs to practice when starting something new.

Lesson for Life: "We want our children to persevere when things get tough, because that's one of the hallmarks of successful people," says Gregory Ramey, PhD, child psychologist at The Children's Medical Center of Dayton, in Ohio. To help your child develop that skill, take a three-part approach: First, before she starts a project or pursuit, make sure she understands that you expect her to finish it. Second, keep your expectations modest. If your 7-year-old begs for guitar lessons, don't sign her up for a year of classes. Start out with just three or four lessons; that way, if she hates the first one, you can encourage her to stick it out for just a few more. Finally, explain up front that it's normal to want to quit when things are hard but that feeling will pass. If kids understand that they'll run into difficult times, they'll be less likely to feel overwhelmed at the first obstacle.

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