Giving Up

Last month I wrote a blog on perseverance, as part of a series of five short blogs, each one looking at one of our tenets of Taekwon-Do.

I opened the blog by saying that as parents we are sometimes to blame for a child’s lack of perseverance, because we set them high standards to achieve, but if the child feels unable to reach this high standard, it can make them anxious. The easiest route for them to then take, in order to stop this anxiety, is to give up.

Today it dawned on me that sometimes, it is actually really important to give up.

My thought was in relation to a child whom I taught Taekwon-Do. A child who I taught for nearly a year. During that year, I did everything I could to help him achieve. I gave him my energy, my patience and my expertise. After a few weeks, I started not looking forward to teaching his class. He was a constant disruption. He did the complete opposite of everything that I asked him to do. He made inappropriate noises and was boisterous with other children. I have taught for 25 years and I drew on everything I had learned during my teacher training course, knowledge of every previous difficult child I had taught and sought advice from other professional teachers. In other words, I was doing exactly as we teach our children to do: to persevere.

After a few months, I spoke to his mum. She suggested to me that she removed him from the class. I, however, refused to give up. I wanted to persevere. I knew that Taekwon-Do was the very thing that could help him. It develops self esteem, builds confidence, promotes team work and provides structure and discipline. The very last thing I wanted to do was to prevent this child from having access to the environment he seemed to so desperately need.

So I persevered.

His behaviour began to get worse. One day when I went into the class, this child wasn’t there. I was told that his mum had decided to remove him due to his bad behaviour.

Part of me felt that I had let him down, however the decision had been taken out of my hands and the classes continued without him. Suddenly, I had a class that was responsive. I had a class who worked as a team and who focused. The children in the class interacted with each other in many positive ways. The class had a new energy and took on a new life. We were able to engage with one another and have fun.

What this experience taught me is that sometimes it is important to give up. Sometimes it is absolutely the right thing to do.

In classrooms all over the country, teachers are struggling with one disruptive child in classes of well over 30 students. This is their dilemma: do you persevere with that one child at the expense of 30? Do you allow 30 children to experience a totally compromised education to help one?

We must continue to teach our children to persevere, but as parents and teachers, we should also be mindful that it is also sometimes the right decision to give up.


20 thoughts on “Giving Up”

  1. I agree, you can fight and fight to continue going but it’s actually showing strength knowing when to stop and resign yourself to it being for the best. When one path doesn’t provide the answer another one will #stayclassymama

    1. Absolutely. I think I’m so stubborn that I sometimes show determination where I should be showing clear decision making. I love your last comment – so true.

  2. A very thought provoking blog. It can be so frustrating when they want to give up and because we’ve probably been there and done it and wished we’d continued with it, be it not finishing ballet class, or learning to play guitar etc. Maybe we don’t want our children to have the same regrets but at the same time we have to ultimately let them decide. I still wish my mum would have ignored my pleas to stop going to ballet class, I could have been the next Darcy Bussle, although I highly doubt it #stayclassy gem X

    1. Yes – knowing when to give up without regrets is very tricky. Maybe take up ballet now! Thank you for your comments.

  3. My son has autism. I’d love him to do some activities outside school but I know he’d be disruptive so I don’t even try. I’m not sure if that is the right approach or not. But all I’m trying to say is that the mum was probably upset and embarrassed by her childs behaviour. Not that I’m saying you should have done anything differently. It sounds as though you tried hard.

    1. It’s so difficult to give background in a blog, but just to assure you that I did check that there were no diagnosed behavioural issues throughout my time with him. I have quite a lot of experience teaching autistic children and teenagers. Please don’t see your child’s autism as a barrier to him joining in clubs. We work with the parents to include children with special needs in our taekwon-do classes and I’m sure that there are others like us. Don’t be afraid to speak directly to coaches about it. Martial arts, for example are really helpful for autistic children, with the right instructor. Thank you so much for your comments.

  4. ah, tough one isn’t it?! Ive had to have conversations with the preteens school about one kid in her class who was disruptive, and at first she told me she was just ignoring it and trying to get on, but when she said she was not advancing because of this one child (the teacher was always preoccupied with this child) I decided to have a chat with the school. Not because I wanted them to give up on this child at all, but only because you right, when it starts to affect 29 other kids then you need to try a different route right? Well done for preserving, I admire anyone who teaches, I know I couldn’t. #stayclassymama

    1. It is so difficult. I’ve had similar conversations with my kids and there is no easy answer. No teacher wants to give up on a child, because you know that you could literally make a difference, but sometimes we need to look at the bigger picture. Thanks, as always, for your comments.

  5. This is such an insightful post and one that, I feel, is important. You obviously did everything in your power to deal with this and I agree that sometimes the right decision is to give up. Perhaps there is an activity out there somewhere that will work for this child, but they just haven’t found it yet. All three of my girls attended Taekwon-Do at some stage and they all got a great deal out of it. It works for a huge number of children all over the world – but not every single child! Thanks for sharing. I love reading your posts.#ablogginggoodtime

    1. Thank you so much for your comments – much appreciated. I’m glad your girls each got something out of doing tkd. As you so rightly say, there will be something that makes this little one tick, it’s just a question of finding it.

  6. You didn’t give up. He did. He may learn the lesson one day but that’s his journey. Shame you didn’t exclude him. Sometimes I think people get rewarded with more attention if they behave badly.
    Keep going – YOU Are a star!

    1. You are right about it is his journey and that people get more attention for bad behaviour – the crux of his problem, I suspect. Thank you for your comments, Adam.

  7. As someone with a remarkable ability to flog a dead horse, I totally agree, theres strength to be had in knowing when to walk away. It means you’re aware and have made a judgement, it doesnt equal failure. #stayclassy

  8. What a great blog! I as an adult am just learning the art of giving up after being the kind of person that just keeps going relentlessly! Thanks for the insight!

  9. It can be very hard sometimes- and sometimes persevering can comeback and bite you. I guess you have to do what’s best for the most… #KCACOLS #Fortheloveofblog

  10. Yes. I’m a great believer in going with gut instinct, but it can be a really hard call. Thank you for commenting.

  11. What a great story and quote! I completely agree that sometimes in life it is better to give up. Although this is particularly hard for me, and I am having this dilemma right now with my job. Since returning back to work from maternity leave I have felt torn because I only took 6 months off and I feel like I should have taken more. My position has changed dramatically and I’m not happy with the new responsibilities. But for me, it’s really hard to quit – or give up – because it feels like you are a failure. But I love this story because sometimes we need to accept it is better to let go and move on. Thanks for the inspiration and sharing with #StayClassyMama.

    1. Thank you for your lovely comments and that is a tricky one. I think that it’s really important to go with your gut instinct and ‘failure’ doesn’t come into it. If it’s right for you and your family, then it is right. Good luck with your decision.

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