Kids & Sport: Are Parents Doing Enough?
Childhood obesity statistics are reaching crisis levels. It’s never been more important for parents to encourage a healthy lifestyle for their kids. A healthy diet is essential, of course, but we should all be trying to help our children to be more active, too. Youth sports is a great option – but there might be a few stumbling blocks in the way. While some kids naturally gravitate to taking part in sport, others do not. In today’s guide, we’re going to take a look at some of the things all parents should be doing to encourage their children to play more sport. Let’s get started by identifying some of the biggest issues.
Ensure they have fun
One of the biggest problems with youth sport these days is that it is oh-so-serious. If your child shows an inkling of talent, they can often be put under a lot of pressure to go further. And, of course, this can take away a lot of the enjoyment. But it’s not just the talented that can suffer. Some kids just don’t like going out onto a football field and being physical. And if you push your child into doing something they don’t enjoy, they will often end up hating sport, not loving it. So, the big idea here is to ensure your child is always enjoying what they are doing. If they don’t like team games, try something more solitary like tennis or squash.
Don’t be a shouty parent
Youth sport has another big issue that causes children distress – relatives on the sidelines. Whether it’s screaming at their child, the opposition, or the referee, it’s no example to be making at all. So, try to reign in your emotions while watching your kids play sports of any kind. Sure, you want them to do well, but you don’t want to scare them off, either. Is it any wonder why so many kids develop a dislike for sports when parents behave in this way?
The biggest – and most useful – thing you can do to help your child enjoy the sport is offering support at all times. It’s as simple as that, yet so few parents manage to get it right. For example, some kids will develop physically later than others, and might feel too uncoordinated to give things a try. They might feel like they are making a fool out of themselves, which no child – or parent – wants. In cases like this, try suggesting other sports and activities that your child might excel in. Think about their general interests, social skills, and temperament and find a game that matches. There is something for everyone out there. It’s a simple case of thinking carefully and finding something that motivates them. Also, don’t forget that it’s OK to test your child’s comfort levels. As long as you don’t overdo it, in many cases, they will try something a few times and start to enjoy the activity a lot more.
Be aware of ‘kit envy.’
Once your child has taken an interest in a particular sport, you might have concerns about kitting them out with the equipment they need. And you would be right to – it can be expensive. However, don’t feel like you have to spend a fortune on all the latest gear. Take your time to research the pros and cons of every last piece of equipment on blogs and review sites. Let’s say your kid is into baseball, for example. Sites like http://www.thebaseballdiamond.com/ might help, for instance – and there are hundreds of others. Youth sport can be challenging when it comes to equipment – the rich kids are always wearing the most expensive gear. But, it’s a great opportunity to impress on your child that trying as hard as they can always is better than looking good on the sports field.
Focus on the positives
OK, so now you have your child playing a sport they love – what’s next? According to http://changingthegameproject.com/, many children lose interest in games around the age of thirteen. Other things in their life become more important, and if they have had some bad experiences, they will often drop out. The trick is to keep those poor experiences to a minimum. Always focus on the positives of playing sport, whether it’s the sportsmanship or being part of a team. Make it clear that all they need to do to succeed in your eyes is the best they can – regardless of whether they win or lose. Not every child will reach their maximum potential, but if they give it their best shot, make sure they know it is a positive thing. Sport can have a significant impact on the emotions – there will be a mix of crushing lows and superlative highs. It can teach your child a lot about life in general, in fact. The key to keeping them interested, however, is to let them experience those emotions themselves. They don’t need any added pressure from you. Offer support rather than admonishment when they fail. Keep them grounded and appreciative when they win. And be a positive role model when things aren’t going their way, rather than taking the overzealous approach.
The balancing act
Finally, if you child does do well at sport, try not to let it take over their life. It’s a delicate balancing act – and it can be tough. But make sure they have interests in other areas and always encourage them to try other things, too. No matter how talented your child is, not everyone can make it. When it comes to the crunch, your child is statistically unlikely to make the grade, and it is vital they have other hobbies and loves in life. Sport can be overwhelming at times, especially as they progress. And without other interests, it will be hard for them to bounce back in the event they face rejection as a young adult.
What are your thoughts on sport for children these days? Are there too few kids enjoying it? If so, why? Let us know what’s on your mind in the comments section below!