There are a lot of benefits to getting your kids involved in sports. You might dream of a time when you can pack up a sports tent and sit on the sidelines cheering your child on during a big tournament.
Benefits of sports for kids include:
- Sports help kids maintain a healthy weight, which is especially important as obesity is increasing in children.
- Participating in organized sports promotes coordination and motor skills development.
- When your child is part of a team, they learn social skills and how to work with others, and also how to offer support for other people.
- Sportsmanship comes from participating in sports. Your child can learn how to have respect for other people and be positive even if they lose.
- Kids who participate in sports outdoors are less likely to develop vision problems.
Some kids naturally take to the idea of being involved in sports, while others might require a bit of a nudge.
Follow the tips below to help get your child or children interested in sports without pressuring them in a negative way.
Choose the Right Sport
An initial step to getting your child interested and involved in sports is choosing the right one for their interests.
Remember to consider safety, what the schedule looks like, the level of involvement you want to have, and your child’s abilities.
Does your child have special needs, and if so, how will those factor into playing a particular sport?
What you might end up doing is having your child try a few different sports to see which one is an optimal fit for them.
Don’t let your own preferences or wishes become what drives you. Accept the sport that your child decides on, even if it’s something outside of what you would traditionally think about.
Consider visiting a few leagues before you decide on one. If your child is younger, you want a league that’s going to emphasize things like motor skills and socialization. You want to look at the skill level of other players. If they’re a lot more advanced than your child, your child might not enjoy it. It also increases the risk they could be injured.
Take Your Child to Games and Events
A good way to get a child involved in sports is to take them to games and events. They can envision what it would be like for them to participate in something similar.
You can go to a baseball game, a soccer game, hockey, or whatever your child has shown an interest in.
Play With Them
In the early days of getting your child interested in sports, maybe you join them and play with them some.
You can go to the park or in the backyard and play different sports with them. This will get them used to the idea, show that you’re also involved with them, and this may be when your child decides on a sport they’re most interested in playing.
Teach Your Child About Discipline and Commitment
If your child does decide to be part of a team, you can use it as a valuable opportunity to talk to them about discipline and commitment. You should explain to them that other people are going to depend on them, and they will have to see the season through at least, even if they decide after the season they don’t want to pursue it anymore.
Watch for Signs of Burnout
With sports, you want to provide some healthy encouragement to your child and teach them about commitment, but don’t overdo it.
Some parents can get so enthusiastic that they don’t recognize the signs of burnout.
Signs of burnout might include your child making excuses not to go to practice, not being excited before a competition, or signs of depression such as headaches and loss of appetite.
You want to balance your child’s free time with their time playing organized sports. They shouldn’t have practices every night and games every weekend. That’s going to lead to burnout.
It should be something that they do just a few hours a week ideally, especially when they’re younger.
Finally, don’t constantly compare your child to other kids when they’re playing or focus too much on the competition element. Yes, healthy competition is good, but don’t get tunnel vision as far as the competitiveness of team sports.