Here's a great way to learn more about how to raise a Quit-Proof Kid! Listen in as Robin and Dr. Robert (Bob) Weil, host of The Sports Doctor Radio Show, talk about why kids quit and how parents can help them.

Dr. Bob and Robin talk about:
  • why kids in music, dance and sports want to quit
  • how parents can thoughtfully select activities and keep their kids going
  • why parents - not kids- must make the initial commitment
  • how being present with your kids and clear communication is essential
  • why specific, positive feedback with your kids is so important to them loving their activities
  • and much more!

A big thanks to Dr. Bob for the lively discussion. If you'd like to listen to the entire show, just click here.

If you'd like to get your kids off to a strong start in life by learning how to finish what they start, get the Raising Quit-Proof Kids Roadmap today. What you do now will impact your kids for the rest of their lives!

If you'd like to get my free checklist, Is Your Kid Going to Quit? click here!

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  Read the transcript of The Sports Doctor Interview on Why Kids Quit

Dr. Bob: Hey everybody, live from Chicago. We are back. It's The Sports Doctor. I'm Dr. Bob Weil, sports podiatrist. And we are excited to have Robin Quinn Keehn join us. Robin is the creative of this innovative program, Raising Quit-Proof Kids. What a great title that is. And a whole area again, you know how much on The Sports Doctor we talk about the challenge of youth sports. My whole book is about that whole world. And this is an interesting area to think about, whether it's the kids, whether it's their parents and whether it's sports or whether it's dance or whether it's music or the corporate world. Robin, welcome to The Sports Doctor.

Robin: Thanks so much. It's great to be here.

Dr. Bob: Give us a quick background on you and your world of Raising Quit-Proof Kids.

Robin: Sure. Happy to do that. So I have four kids of my own and when my first one was born and in preschool, she wanted to quit suddenly when she had seemed so happy. And my inquiry started right then and there, when she was about three years old. And I thought, what in the world? Why is she so excited and now she doesn't want to go? And I had a really pivotal conversation with her preschool teacher who said, "Hey, guess what? You're the grownup. She doesn't know what she wants. And you get to decide. You get to commit to what her activities are as she grows up." And I hadn't really thought about it until that point.

Robin: And then fast-forward, I had a music and dance school, it had thousands of kids over the course of two decades. And I watched this thing happen again and again. And once parents became clear about what their role was, things shifted. But until they understood what their responsibility and opportunity was, there was a lot of quitting going on. And so I think parents, some parents know, but there are lots and lots of parents that kind of wonder, well, where is the line? What am I responsible for? And what's my kid's responsibility here in sticking with things?

Dr. Bob: You know, it's interesting. So much of our Sports Doctor radio show, so much of my book, Hey Sports Parents, talking about the pressures both physically and mentally of youth sports. Little league almost collapsed decades ago because everybody was quitting. They were tired of this regimen and pressure, whether it was the parents, whether it was the coaches, etc. So there's always been that side of things we've talked about over the years, whether it was the problems with injuries or whether it was an overzealous parent and the idea of having a positive approach to paying attention to even being aware of why is this going on as well as a roadmap as you talk about it, to try to make sense to make things better makes an awful lot of sense. So what are some of the important points that you pay attention to in the ability to pay to be Raising Quit-Proof Kids. I love the title.

Robin: Thank you. Well, there are a few things. First of all, I really encourage parents to be present with their kids. We are in a great time of amazing technology except that, and that ,it has kind of taken over and we use it probably more than we're even aware of. I see parents hand little kids phones and devices all the time just to keep them occupied while the parent is occupied. I thought it was a challenge to pay attention when my kids were little and we didn't have that. Now I look at the draw of technology to be used both to keep your kids quiet, entertain them and be distracted yourself. So I think if we're not present, number one, we don't even really have a chance here at having an impact with our kids. So that's the bottom line for me.

Robin: Another premise I have is that a lot of times parents just put their kids in an activity without ever really considering what they want them to achieve. Do they want them just to try it? Do they want them to complete it or do they want them to master a skill? And if they don't know, when their child decides I don't want to do it anymore, which is natural, they weren't that committed to begin with. They didn't even really have a plan and so it's easy to let them quit. And so another really big piece here is that the parent is the one initially ,when kids are young, that makes the commitment because children don't know what commitment is. They don't understand that any commitment has peaks and valleys and plateaus that lasts for short, medium or long times and it's always changing.

Robin: And so when a child experiences, I don't like it this week or I don't like to play that song, or I don't like that kid on my team, they go to - I want to quit. That's the solution. But a parent with a bigger picture understands, oh, this is part of what I need to help my child manage and I have an opportunity here to show them what it takes to stick with something. So if a parent is committed, we can manage that. But if we're not even committed, then sure, we're going to let our child quit, try something new, let them quit and try something new. The danger that I see in that is that we establish a habit of quitting. And it doesn't just happen in sports and music and dance, it happens in school and jobs and relationships. And so it just establishes that habit of quitting that really can haunt somebody for a lifetime. And it's terrible to see that happen, but I think it's really prevalent.

Dr. Bob: Now what ages, Robin, are you paying attention to regarding being aware of any of this? Is it anywhere? Because four, six, seven years old by the time your son or daughter gets involved in the soccer program or a baseball program, where you are starting to pay attention to all factors about this. Sometimes we talk about the challenges with parents is, whose goal is it? When we talk about the overzealous parent and the parent being the one who is so committed and putting this kind of pressure on, but from the other side, what ages are you talking about where the Raising Quit-Proof Kids starts to become relevant?

Robin: So personally I think it becomes relevant the minute your child is born and you start thinking, oh, someday I want him or her to go to preschool. Right then and there. Okay, why do I want that? What would my outcome be? How long do I want them to do it? If we can look at everything that our child does from the time they're born and start early with them, we have a way better shot of keeping them in activities as they grow. If they've learned these things by the time they're eight, that's amazing. If they've had practice sticking with things at that point, that's wonderful. I'm really a believer from watching my own kids that I have about 10 years of being really influential in my child's life. And after that, their peers become much more influential, their teachers are much more influential. And so what I've taught them in that space of time is really what I hope will carry them into their future.

Robin: With my kids, they all were in soccer, well not the youngest ones, but the first three were in soccer when they were really little. And we made a commitment to the team and to the period of time that that soccer ran, depending on the age they were. And we stuck it out even though they didn't want to. So when it came to the next round of soccer, they already knew that they needed to be committed. They knew we weren't going to let them off the hook when they felt like quitting. And so the kids grew with the idea and as they took on bigger challenges they were able-

Dr. Bob: Yeah, now of course that doesn't mean that the boy or girl couldn't change their mind on a particular choice and what they want to do or whether they're-

Robin: Sure.

Dr. Bob: ... still interested, etc., but you're really talking about at least discussing, communicating with your son and daughter-

Robin: Absolutely.

Dr. Bob: ... about these important factors. Because again, whether it's becoming a good student by sticking with it, not quitting or whether it's becoming a good athlete, these principles make so much sense. So the idea of paying attention to this side of it makes an awful lot of sense. What's the best, what's your website people could find out about Raising Quit-Proof Kids?

Robin: It's https://Quitproofkids.com.

Dr. Bob: Okay. And again, the ages like you're talking about starting from birth, it's an interesting point you made also, you have about 10 years to be influential. Good luck to all of us with the world of social media and the challenges that this is brought to bear, whether it's kids being entertained by looking at a screen all day. I have a pediatric optometrist joining me in September talking about the myopia and vision problems that they're dealing with because... or the [inaudible 00:09:12] practice talking about the neck trouble by always looking at a phone. Some of this stuff is almost funny and some of the scenarios to other parents again who have multiple kids in multiple sports and everything from the financial side to the scheduling side to all of these things. My book is all about the epidemic of overuse injuries in youth sports both mentally and physically. So you have a program, a roadmap where parents can start paying attention, learning about, I would imagine coaches, has got to be a big audience for your Raising Quit-Proof kids.

Robin: Right. One of my commitments is really to people who are out there teaching and coaching kids because having had my studio where I did that for all those years, you get very attached to your kids and you really want them to have a success and suddenly they turn around and go and it's a real let down. And you do this, you coach because you love kids and you want to see them succeed. And so I'm very committed to working with people who work with kids to help them understand how they can coach parents and how parents, what parents need to understand in order to keep their kids in so that they master a skill or find a success or reach a goal.

Dr. Bob: Yes, that's why I always asked people like you, Robin, with a tongue and cheek. I always say, I asked you how your psychology and sports psychology skills are.

Robin: Yes, that's right.

Dr. Bob: You're an educator. And again, we are in an explosion of youth sports. Youth sports is now a $15 billion a year industry. Well, with all the ups and downs and various sides of it. And again, it's supposedly we got to remember having fun for the kids is one of the key, key things. And as we start getting more and more serious and traveling teams and schedules and all of this stuff, and then we start running many times into the problems, whether it's injuries, whether it's quitting, and that whole side of things where all of a sudden when you started paying big attention to these things in your own world of your dance studio, what kind of a difference did that make in the participation?

Robin: So we talked about having real conversations with our kids and I think that's a really critical piece. And I think if we're not willing to have conversations about why we're doing this, how long we're committed, how we make our decisions as a family about what activities when our kids are old enough to do that, that is a huge factor. If kids feel like they're not heard and they're just put in something and their parents are expecting great things and they're a let down to them. I mean, kids don't have fun, they don't want to do it....

Dr. Bob: No, they'll quit. I want to talk more about this. Again, we're talking with Robin Quinn Keehn, Raising Quit-Proof Kids. We will be right back with her again. We'll talk more about this whole family dynamic. It's The Sports Doctor.

Dr. Bob: Do you live in or near Aurora, Illinois and you're into sports, fitness at any level? Or your son or daughter is? You cannot forget about your feet. Your feet affect everywhere else. There are complex motions that come into play, especially in sports. Your ankles, knees, hips and back, all are affected with your foot mechanics. Come visit the office, Dr Bob, and get evaluated. I'll check what shoes are best for you. I offer prescription orthotics, which is usually one of the major tools for treatment and prevention of foot related ankle and leg problems. Also, enhancing performance. Stepper to quicker call 630-898-3505 or go to sportsdoctorradio.com.

Dr. Bob: Hey everybody, we're live. The fun of live radio, it never gets old with talking with Robin Quinn Keehn, it's The Sports Doctor live from Chicago. She's a creator of Raising Quit-Proof Kids. Good luck to her and that whole area. It's a great topic. And I wanted to talk more about, you talked about the family unit. It's such a big deal regarding communicating, find out. We were just talking on the first segment with Dr. Webber, about kids who might specialize too early and the problems with one sport, etc. So having this awareness and discussion with the family is so important where you're deciding or helping decide what types of activity, how consistent the activity. So again, you are an educator. Are you involved in any of the schools in your world at all, Robin?

Robin: Not at the moment, but I have clearly had my own music and dance schools so I was very involved there and in the local community when I had it.

Dr. Bob: I would think that the elementary schools, junior high school and high schools should be connecting with you with this kind of information. It makes so much sense. Even if you're looking at again, they're coming up with better students and better student, parents, teacher relationships.

Robin: That's right.

Dr. Bob: Again, in the area of the sports world where you were talking about your kids playing soccer and your particular school and involving dancers and the importance of happily staying with it and those kinds of discussions. Talk a little bit more about what you include in your roadmap.

Robin: Sure. Well, so we do want our kids to be happy and we want them to enjoy what they're doing. And I think one of the things that we can do to help them be happy and be appreciated for their efforts is that specific positive feedback. So when you're watching your child participate in sports, not looking for the critical components but noticing specifically what they did well like wow, you were such a great encouragement to your teammate today. I saw that you went up and gave him a high five when he scored that goal or when he did that assist or whatever or I noticed how you really worked on your extension in your dance class today. I saw you doing that. It was really great.

Robin: I think coming from the positive, looking for what our children did well and not just a big blanket statement like 'you're so talented' or 'you're so awesome', that actually puts a different kind of pressure on a kid and it's actually counter to what they want to hear now. They're feeling like they need to live up to something. But if you can give them that kind of feedback, that in itself can make a difference in your relationship around the sport or activity.

Robin: One of the things that happens too, when our kids want to quit a lot of times is we get into an upset with them, right? They want to quit when they're young, they can make it known by throwing temper tantrums, crying, whining, complaining, rolling the eyes. I have four kids, I know what that looks like all too well.

Robin: Right. And so the temptation is to get mad at them and to put your foot down and get angry and to tell them what to do. And I learned with my kids when they're having a response like that, I leave them alone. I'll tell them, "You know what? I know you're angry right now. And when you're ready to talk, you can come talk to me. But for now I just want you to go and be alone in your room and work it out for yourself. And then we can have a conversation."

Robin: And the thing I've learned is do not go back into that room 10 times and tell them to be quiet because that just agitate them more. And so learning to intentionally ignore negative stuff and then have a conversation when it's calm and positively reinforce the little stuff, the good stuff that you see happening with your kid, that goes a long way-.

Dr. Bob: That's such a key. The late great sports psychologist who spent, gosh, five years with me on the radio, Jim Vickery, in the '90s. He had what he felt was so key with parenting the child athlete. Number one was don't be a critic. And this is exactly what you're saying, which is if you don't have something positive to say, you don't say it and that you sometimes don't realize how this affects that young boy or girl, including the potential of them quitting where-

Robin: Exactly.

Dr. Bob: ... they've had it already. Once you sports becomes like a drill or a job, then a lot of times that's the problem. That doesn't mean there isn't very elite child athletes who go on to become Olympians that with scholarships, etc., but it's a special breed. It's not necessarily for everybody. But I agree with you totally around that whole positive side of things. You might have a son or daughter who's not happy with their coach. Do you recommend in your world communication between the parent and the coach also from a positive perspective?

Robin: Well, absolutely, and you know, I think it's really important that we do have conversations with our kids and try to get to the bottom of it. Sometimes there are legitimate issues. Again, if we're not present, we're never going to know the truth, but being present with our kids, being present when they're at their activities. In my studio, we required every instrument or piano students' parents to attend every lesson because we wanted them to see the value of what was going on and we also wanted them to remember and be supported when their kid wanted to quit. This is a natural part of an experience of a long-term commitment.

Dr. Bob: You know, prodigy, it's interesting, that chapter in my book, it's titled the Prodigy Sports and this, I pay attention to the fact that of course the whole world wants kids to play multiple sports so they could use different parts of the body. That's great. Unless you're a gymnast or a figure skater or a ballet dancer and you don't want to do others. But when the prodigy is music, your son or daughter might be a great chess player or all of these areas where you have these very talented kids and you're dealing with the ability to become the best you could be is a whole other area. Because again, if the pressures mount, whether it's the kids always injured because of overuse and overkill or the pressure from parents and coaches, they will quit.

Robin: They will quit, 100%.

Dr. Bob: So this, we pay big attention again to that and then give us another couple of bullets of what you find important before we run out of time.

Robin: Sure. So I talked about it a little bit, but parents get in trouble I think a lot of times by just requesting a lot of things to their kids. So, hey, I want you to go do this or let's go do that or you really should practice or it's time to do your homework. There's no structure for kids. And so there's what that sets up around any kind of activity is if parents aren't 100% committed and they're not going to require that their child do something, it sets up a battleground. There's this back and forth and back and forth and the playing out of I'm upset, I don't want to go, and if a parent's not committed and they're not requiring something, it causes a lot of confusion for kids.

Robin: And so I'm a big advocate for parents selecting the activity, committing to the activity, requiring the activity for a duration, not forever, but for whatever they've decided is best, and then not to go down the battlefield with the kids. It's like, look, this is what we're doing. Let's be really clear, at some point, you're probably not going to like it, but I'm here to stand with you.

Dr. Bob: "Hey mom, I'm playing with my friends today and maybe I could duct the game, uh Ma? Don't you think? Gee, I'm having such fun, I can duct the game." And you're saying, "hey, you made a commitment to your teammates or whatever and we expect you to be there." Does that sound like I'm talking about Raising Quit-Proof Kids?

Robin: It does. It absolutely does. And I learned it from my mom and dad. I remember, I had a babysitting job one night and I had a boy who liked me and asked me out on a date and they're like, sorry, you've got to babysit-

Dr. Bob: Robin, I can't believe we're just about out of time. I was just which I don't know how we flew by so fast. Give me again, please, the websites so people will find out about this, your programs.

Robin: Sure. It's quitproofkids.com.

Dr. Bob: Quitproofkids.com.

Robin: That's right.

Dr. Bob: Robin Quinn Keehn. Thank you so much for joining me.

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