A strong body creates a strong mind. If this is true for adults, this is especially true for developing children. Countless sources have stressed the importance of a child’s developing years. It’s during these years when a child’s traits, attitudes, and personality are initially shaped. A child that engages in sports is bound to be more confident, physically and mentally healthy and more likely to face challenges head on.
Sports are a positive and beneficial experience for children, but like many factors in parenting, there are several things we need to understand in order to successfully introduce our children into sports. A poor introductory experience can cause a child to hold a disdain for sports and other physical activities. This is why it’s crucial that we’re able to get things right the first time. Here’s how you can encourage your children to participate in sports:
Lead By Example
Children tend to observe and manifest the behavior that they see in their parents. This can be either a blessing or a curse, depending on what your children see you doing. Before starting with your children, try to start with yourself if you aren’t already into sports.
Once you’ve begun to get your children’s attention, you can add a bit of quality time to the mix by playing sports with your children. Playing catch with your child is fun, easy, and a wonderful bonding experience. If they enjoy this pastime, you can begin to slowly introduce them to more competitive options down the line.
Keep Things Fun
It’s important to highlight the fun in sports. Resist the urge to put too much pressure on your child. Keep things light and fun, and try to have a sense of humor. A child won’t gain an interest in learning proper technique if they don’t enjoy the sport first.
Stay Positive and Supportive
Whether your child is performing well or not, try to stay upbeat and positive about sports. Remember that you’re trying to nurture a fighting spirit in your child. The last thing you want is for your child to associate sports with disappointment. A few words of encouragement and comfort go a long way. Try saying things like “All that matters is that you tried your best and you had fun” or “you look like you were having fun today”. These simple statements teach your child to associate sports with relief and recreation rather than disappointment and inadequacy.
Remember: Encourage, Never Force
It’s not uncommon for parents to want their children to participate in a particular sport. If your child does not seem to enjoy a sport, allow them to try other options instead. Inversely, if your child seems to enjoy a sport and demonstrates a natural talent for it, do your best to support them in this new venture. If your child likes basketball, then get your child the basketball gear they need. If your child enjoys baseball, then they’re more than likely to appreciate unique baseball gifts. What truly matters here is that you allow your child to enjoy what they feel is the sport for them. Forcing a child into a sport takes away the fun, freedom, and relief, and it will cause your child to associate sports with something similar to a chore.
Don’t Underestimate the Influence of Sports-Related Movies
There is a vast collection of sports-related movies that you can enjoy with your children, whether it’s in movies like Space Jam, 42, or Coach Carter. Sports movies can be a fun way to stimulate your child’s interest in a sport while also spending quality time with them.
Sports can yield a great number of benefits to your child’s development. Not only are they fun and stimulating, but they also teach children many life lessons that can’t be taught in the classroom. Always keep in mind that your goal is to create an interest in sports, not necessarily to raise an athlete. The serious stuff should come later; for now, let your children be children.