Sports offers more than just physical benefits. Participating in sports also teaches cooperation, persistence and increases kids’ self-esteem.
Not all children are naturally drawn to sports, however. While you can’t force your child to become an athlete, there are ways to encourage kids to gain an interest in sports – and enjoy the myriad of benefits sports offers.
- Starting at an early age, expose your child to sports in various ways. Watch sports on TV. Go to sports-themed movies. Take them to a professional sporting event. With the Olympics coming up in February, it’s a great time to watch the exciting events unfold right from your living room. Kids will see common and non-traditional sports while watching athletes compete at the highest level. Cheering on Team USA can really bring the excitement home and get kids fired up for sports.
- Play together as a family. Shoot hoops in the driveway, kick a soccer ball in the yard, or play catch with a baseball. Studies show that kids who are active early in life are more likely to grow up to be active, healthy adults. (See Article)
- Start building your child’s confidence and skills early with Sports Coaches For Kids’ Quick Start Sports. Aimed at children ages 3-6, a trained coach will come to your house for a 30-45 minute lesson. Games and activities focus on hand-eye and foot-eye coordination skills in a fun way for young athletes.
- If children are hesitant to sign up for a sport, listen to their concerns. Hear them out and see why they shy away from sports. You may need to gently persuade them, letting them know there are a variety of sports to choose from. Then include them in deciding which sport to try.
- When helping children pick a sport, think about their personality, ability, hobbies and what gets them excited. Does your child like to play alone or with friends? Is your child somewhat coordinated or not so much? Some children thrive being part of a team, while others are better suited for a solo sport. Remember to include all kinds of sports in your list of potential activities to try. Your child may enjoy golf, tennis, tae kwon do, or track.
- Once children try a sport, encourage them and remind them it’s about having fun, not whether they win. Don’t put added pressure on them to be ultra competitive if it’s not in their nature. Go to their games, meets or matches. Be supportive. Build up their confidence and they may just learn to love sports.
- If your child tries a sport and really doesn’t like it, don’t force him to play. Maybe it’s just not the right fit. Find out what he didn’t like about it and discuss other options he might like better. Don’t give up after the first attempt at sports.
In the end, some kids will never enjoy playing sports. If that’s the case, continue to be active as a family at home. Teaching kids the importance of staying physically fit is important for them to grow up to be healthy, active adults.