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How do I introduce my child to sports?

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As parents and caregivers, we all look for ways to help enhance the lives of our children and to ensure they develop as strongly as possible. On the surface, playing sports is an obvious way to help children incorporate exercise into their lives, while also stressing the importance of physical fitness. However, children can also benefit from sports in many other ways, including boosting their self-esteem, learning how to work well with others and how to set goals for achievement. But how do you successfully introduce sports into a child’s life in the first place?

First of all, make sports fun for a child.

Most children are naturally inclined to be active and to seek play, and sports can certainly offer lots of fun for kids of any age. By stressing the fun involved in sports, they won’t think of it as chore or something that has too many rules. As you start teaching a child how a particular sport works, make sure to not apply too much pressure on learning all the rules or guidelines at once. Also, remember that some sports are not for every child. While a parent or caregiver might enjoy the team play of basketball, their child may prefer a sport like swimming or golf. By letting a child have a choice in choosing their own sport, it can make them more interested in continuing with it.  However, if the child is having trouble showing interest in one sport, encourage them to try something different. The main thing to remember is to let the child see the fun part of playing a sport from the very beginning and to stay positive and encouraging no matter what their skill level may be.

Remember a child’s attention span.

We all know that children have short attention spans, especially when they are learning something for the first time. So, again, try to focus on one aspect of the sport and refrain from explaining every rule right from the very beginning. For young children, try to pick a sport that doesn’t require a large time commitment. To keep a child interested, try to keep things light and change things up in the introductory phase. If they start to look bored, switch to another aspect of the game you’re teaching to keep them interested.

Encouraging friendships through sports.

One of the best ways for a child to make a new friend is by participating in sports. Kids love playing with one another and team sports can promote strong bonds and friendships that can last a lifetime. Think about where you live and whether your yard might be a good place for your child and their friends to play together. If your yard is not large enough, think about a nearby park or field where you can get all the kids together. When a child learns about competition and teamwork by playing with kids their own age, they learn valuable life lessons on winning, losing and how to resolve conflicts with one another. They can also learn how to look out for their friends as well as developing trust and confidence in other people. Regardless of their athletic ability, encouraging a child to participate in team sports can help them bond with others, both on and off the field.

Leading by example.

If a child sees an adult being active and playing sports, it’s more likely that the child will gain an interest in physical fitness and picking up a sport. Also, be mindful that when you are playing or even watching sports, a child learns lessons in sportsmanship. Being a good sport is more than a phrase, and when a parent or caregiver approaches sports in a fun, lighthearted way, their child will learn to follow their lead.

Encourage, Don’t Force.

As we’ve mentioned, it’s important to talk to your kids about sports as something that is fun and entertaining. If a child feels obligated or pushed into playing a sport, they may not like playing and give up. It’s also important to use positive reinforcement with a child who is just starting sports. If they are doing well, you can praise their skill and performance level. If they are not a natural athlete but still enjoy playing, tell them what a great team player they are. Let them know how proud you are of their dedication and for being physically active. Also, be sure to help a child focus on the game itself and not worry so much about winning or losing by asking if they had fun while they were playing and what their favorite moment was.

To learn more about whether your child is ready to play sports and to see what sports are recommended for different age groups, visit https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/sports/Pages/Is-Your-Child-Ready-for-Sports.aspx.


By ABC Quality Team on June 22, 2021