One of the most common questions parents ask us is what happens if their child loses interest in Ninjutsu in 2-3 months.
Our advice is always the same. Students should train for a minimum of six months before giving up.
Parents are faced with two seemingly conflicting lessons they can teach their children in this situation. The first lesson is commitment and not giving up easily. Allowing kids to quit things too soon, or as soon as it gets a bit boring or difficult, is teaching them to a quit. This is an absolutely certain recipe for failure. You cannot succeed by being a quitter. It is a cold, hard fact.
However, this cold hard fact also needs to be balanced against something else we need to teach kids. They must also learn that they have the power to make decisions that can improve their lives – and sometimes quitting something might well do that – and that they are not helpless to change their own circumstances.
This is where the six-month minimum comes in. Doing something consistently for six months is long enough to make an informed decision about whether to stop or continue – and it is also long enough for kids to have begun reaping the benefits if training.
Crucially, it’s long enough to allow an important feature of a child’s learning cycle play out. Here is what happens when to many kids when the start learning a martial art.
Phase 1: They love it. It’s new, fun and exciting and they learn cool things.
Phase 2: Kids lose a little interest. Some of the stuff that was once new and exciting is less so because they have seen it before. They also discover that while many of things are still cool, they are hard to learn and this can be frustrating. This is when many kids want to quit. Kids often don’t like doing things they are not good at.
Phase 3: The commitment pays off and the kids can now properly do those cool things that excited them originally. Kids LOVE being good at things and this fuels their desire to become even better. They have also learned that they can learn and their next Phase 2 is never as difficult again because they know how to get through it and enjoy the challenge.
If a child drops out too soon, before they have even had the chance to progress through Phase 2 to enjoy Phase 3, they have not even had the chance to succeed. This is worse than trying and failing; it’s basically not even trying.
Six months is long enough for most kids to get through all three phases of the early part of the syllabus and – for most kids – long enough to earn their first belt. Most then choose to continue. If, after all this, they decide it’s not for them, then fair enough. But anything less than six months is setting a child up to fail. Why would you do that?