Art of Fencing, Art of Life

How Long Should I Make My Child Stick with Fencing?

How Long Should I Make My Child Stick with Fencing?

How long to push a child into staying in a sport is an important question. It gets right to the balancing act that parents walk as they work to scaffold their children’s development while also giving kids the right amount of autonomy to grow into independent individuals. 

This is an age-old parenting conundrum, and it’s one that we get over and over again. Knowing when to give up on something is a difficult decision, and it’s one that parents are often torn over because they want what’s best for their child. What’s best for a child is not always what they want, and that’s why we’re here to guide them. 

Guidance on your timeline

Unfortunately, there is not a specific magic timeline of how long you should make a child stick with fencing if they aren’t enjoying it. That’s probably not what you wanted to hear, but wait! There’s still some real guidance that will help you figure out how to handle this situation.

The reason that there’s no hard and fast rule is that every child is different. What does work with pretty much every kid is to give them a specific, reasonable timeframe that they have to stick with fencing, then giving them complete control to make the decision. This way you get what you want, which is for them to spend some time in the sport and really give it a chance, and they get what they want, which is autonomy to have some say in what happens in their life. 

The specific amount of time doesn’t matter as much as you letting them have the power to walk away. However, there are some compelling reasons for various timelines. 

The longer a child has been in fencing, the longer they should stay with it. For instance, if you have a competitive youth fencer who’s been at this for three years and they suddenly start saying they want to quit, then you’d want them to stay with it for at least six months. If there’s a reasonable break in the season, then that could work as well. Stick with it till Christmas, or Junior Olympics Championship, or stay with it through the season, which are both natural breaking points in the fencing year. 

If a child has been with it for just one year, then you might tell them they need to stick with it for three more months. This might be a stretch, depending on how much they want to leave fencing, but it’s a good stretch for most kids. It’s easy to count 1-2-3, and this will give them enough time to get over whatever hump they’re experiencing.

A one-month timeline is a little harder to manage, and it really runs the risk of being too short a timeline unless a child is very early in fencing. If your child has only been in fencing for 2-3 months, then it’s reasonable to tell them that they need to stay in it for one more month before they quit. 

The age factor in quitting

Age is also a factor here. A teenager who wants to leave a sport that they’ve put their heart into for many years is totally different from a nine-year-old who has only just started fencing. 

For older kids and teenagers, it’s much more important to push them to stick with fencing, especially if they once had a real affinity for it at some point. Older kids have more of a capacity for handling challenging situations. Not only that, but they also need to learn to stick through things as they get closer to adulthood. 

With older kids, you can really sit down and discuss their reasoning and also what kind of timeline they can tolerate. This is a great opportunity for parents to let kids take more of a lead in the conversation and participate in the decision-making process. 

If they’re part of their club’s fencing team and have been committed to competing with them, they should follow through with that commitment for the season. This is a moment to push that issue because it teaches them to follow through when other people count on them. 

For a younger child, fencing for another month might be almost an eternity. To an eight-year-old, that extra time is a big chunk of their life! Set reasonable expectations for your child, and understand that because they aren’t feeling fencing right now, that doesn’t mean that it’s the end of the line. We’ve seen kids, especially younger kids, come in for a few months and then decide they don’t like it, only to ask to come back when they’re older and find that they love it!

Making sense of why a kid wants to quit

Kids are very much like adults in that they don’t want to do things that are uncomfortable. If something doesn’t feel good, they aren’t going to want to do it. 

There are a thousand reasons that fencing might not feel great to a kid. Here are some possibilities:

  • The child is overwhelmed with school and other responsibilities, and fencing is one too many things
  • The sword is heavy, and fencing is physically rigorous
  • They haven’t formed positive relationships with their fencing peers
  • They haven’t formed a positive relationship with their coach
  • They’re afraid of getting hurt
  • Fencing gear is uncomfortable or too hot for them
  • They aren’t finding the success they think they should, which is a blow to their self-esteem
  • They feel pressure from parents to achieve their goals

Odds are that it’s not just one of these things, but that it’s a combination of several of them as well as other factors that make a child not want to continue fencing. 

In making the decision about whether to push your child into sticking with fencing, knowing what’s making them want to quit will make all the difference. Especially with a kid who’s younger, elementary or middle school age, finding the underlying cause can be a simple fix that will get them on track to stick with it. 

This direct approach won’t work with everything, because some reasons are too ethereal to be tackled like this, but it’s definitely a way to start going in the right direction. 

Instilling the right values

A major reason we want to push a child to stick with fencing is that we feel like it teaches them important values like perseverance, responsibility, and that all-important grit. 

Sticking with something is meaningful. In fact, it’s a critical indicator of their ability to be successful in life later on. Kids need to be able to make it through a tough semester of college to get to the next semester and make it through to achieve their goals. They need to have the stamina to push through a long move when they buy a new home. They need to be able to get through the tough parts of their workday to make it to that next level in their career. 

The sticky point is that another critical indicator of a child’s success is how much they feel that their parents support their ability to make independent decisions. If they have good reasons to step away from fencing, whether parents really agree with those reasons or not, then it’s important for parents to listen. 

In this process, realize that the values you’re really instilling in them come largely from how you treat them in this situation. If you show your kids compromise, model constructive feedback, and communicate your reasoning clearly while at the same time listening to their reasoning with an open mind, then those are the values that you’ll really be teaching them. 

While we want kids to stick with fencing for as long as possible, we also recognize that it’s not for every child. We all want what’s best for our kids, and sometimes that means giving them the autonomy to step away from something that doesn’t fit for them, even if it is fencing!


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  1. Oliver

    I’m struggling to picture the type of person who would ask this question:

    How Long Should I Make My Child Stick with Fencing?

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