Overcoming the Instant Gratification Trap: Why Quitting Early Limits Your Child's Potential

Cecilia Rowe
March 11, 2024
Female music teacher playing acoustic guitar with her young teenage girl student also playing acoustic guitar during holiday recitals

Parents, please don’tfall into the trap of re-enforcing the need for instant gratification that ourchildren are looking for – we need to teach them that working for desired goalsis worth it!

Ever since the advent of themicrowave, we have become such an instant society. We want things fast, and wewant them now. Our children (and us parents, too, if we are being honest!) havebecome spoiled with how fast we can get things from Instacart, Amazon, andDoorDash. Unfortunately, the non-tangible things in life don’t work that way,at least the good ones that I found. Relationships need time to deepen;academics need time and persistence to excel; soccer, basketball, and golf takemany hours on the range, field, or court; art takes many hours of drawing, andlearning a musical instrument is no different.

Please don’t let your childquit anything after only a couple of months! No doubt, the material complexitywill increase in learning anything worthwhile, and if you let your student quitbefore they’ve really even started, they are not even giving themselves a fairchance.  

Even still, parents are morelikely to pull their children out of music lessons for fear they may kill theirchild’s love for the art forever. Not true, says psychologist and author Dr.Susan Bartell of New York. As Dr. Susan Bartell explains, “Children often giveup quickly when success isn’t easy or immediate. And, because music is justlike any other academic subject, some students won’t be successful right fromthe start. Like in math or science class, children should learn to push past the frustrationof not being instantaneously good at something – the reward of success will be much moreappreciated once they accomplish their goal!”

Just like learning alanguage, you would never give yourself just a few months to be fluent. We seethis all the time: the newness wears off after a couple of months of lessons,and the going starts to get a little more complex. This is when adults and childrenalike start to waiver, but it’s truly the time to start pushing through! 

Dr. Bartell continues: “Ifyou allow your child to give in to uncomfortable feelings that make him want toquit, you communicate that hard work and perseverance aren’t important. In fact, by not pushing your child, you deny him theopportunity to learn to cope with frustration, and eventually, he will stoptrying at anything.”

As a parent, that is afrightening concept to read, and one I know we parents would never knowinglycommunicate to our children. 

As a long-time teacher, Iknow a good teacher will recognize frustration or pushback and switch gears sothat the student starts working for a performance opportunity or a similarsized goal. 

So, when your child (or you!)is having a tough time with your music lessons, sports, or academics, pleasedon’t quit! See it as acelebratory event, as you aremaking headway with getting smarter and stronger!

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Cecilia Rowe
March 11, 2024