'You can quit... but not today' - the game-changing words to use when your kid wants to give up a sport, according to an Olympic gold medallist

Help you and your child decide if quitting is the right thing to do thanks to Nastia Liukin's advice

A young girl posing with a football under his arm
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Olympic gymnast Nastia Liukin has shared the words her parents told her whenever she wanted to quit - and you can use them too.

One of the hardest parts of parenting can be deciding when to push your children out of their comfort zone and when to listen to their concerns and allow them to pull back from something. Depending on your parenting style, you might take a different approach to this dilemma. Those who favour gentle parenting may decide that letting their child have control over what they do or don't participate in is an important boundary to teach, while stricter tiger parents are less likely to want their child to quit.

When it comes to playing sport some kids love it and some kids hate it, but exercise for kids is important. And, as many parents will know, the hobbies children decide they want to be part of can change like the weather. So it's understandable if you're reluctant to let your child give up on their chosen sport if they tell you they want to quit.

Fortunately, Olympic gymnast and gold medallist Nastia Liukin has shared her advice for when kids want to give up. Speaking to Today, she said, "You can never quit on a bad day, and I think it’s super important because, especially as kids — or even me now as an adult — sometimes you go through things in life and it's not going your way and you want to give up, but you can't quit on a bad day. It's so important to instil that in your kids."

Nastia was 18 when she won five medals in the 2008 Olympic Games, and she credits her parents, world champion gymnasts Valeri Liukin and Anna Kotchneva, for much of her success.

But even Olympians have days when they want to give up, and Nastia's mum had a great tactic for when this happened. "She would always say, 'That’s totally fine. You can quit, but not today,'" explained Nastia. "She would make me go back to the gym the next day and the next day until I had at least one good day. Then she’d say, 'OK, now you can quit; we’ll enrol you back in the public school and find another activity you want to do.'"

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Sharing Nastia's advice on Instagram, Big Life Journal, an award-winning journal brand, expanded on how parents can use this approach to encourage kids to keep going.

They suggest explaining, "We all have bad days when we want to quit. When something feels hard, our brain and body resist because they want us to be comfortable. But if we quit on a bad day, we will never become great at something, and we might regret this later."

They add, "By adopting this mindset, we can help normalise struggle and honour our child's choice if they want to try something else."

In other parenting news, we've looked at how to teach children emotional intelligence, and why LEGO is great for young children’s development. Elsewhere, a child psychologist has shared three reasons why punishments don’t improve kids’ behaviour – and #2 makes so much sense.

Ellie Hutchings
Family News Editor

Ellie is GoodtoKnow’s Family News Editor and covers all the latest trends in the parenting world - from relationship advice and baby names to wellbeing and self-care ideas for busy mums. Ellie is also an NCTJ-qualified journalist and has a distinction in MA Magazine Journalism from Nottingham Trent University and a first-class degree in Journalism from Cardiff University. Previously, Ellie has worked with BBC Good Food, The Big Issue, and the Nottingham Post, as well as freelancing as an arts and entertainment writer alongside her studies. When she’s not got her nose in a book, you’ll probably find Ellie jogging around her local park, indulging in an insta-worthy restaurant, or watching Netflix’s newest true crime documentary.