If you look back on your own childhood, were you involved in sports very much? Some people will remember every spare minute being at a sports club or in an after school sports team. Some of us many not have memories like that and just have the PE lessons at school to remember when we think of sport and our childhood. The latter does seem a bit of a shame, as there is so much more to sport and being active when you’re young than a formal lesson at school, doing something that you might not normally excel at.
There are so many benefits to getting involved in sport from a young age. Child psychologists often talk about these benefits and how they can help children to grow in confidence and help them to socialize and work in teams. They can also help our children to learn vital life skills, like hard work, determination, cooperation with others, and commitment to doing something, and achieving a goal.
There, of course, can be some tough patches to work through. When you’re watching your child on the sidelines, could it potentially lead to things like anxiety for them? You will also go through the process of choosing the right activity for them to take part in. That process can lead to some heartache and even some feelings of being upset and sad as they discover that they aren’t as good at some things as they are at others.
Teaching our children to be gracious in defeat is also something that they will need to learn along the way. So with all that in mind, it can seem like a bit of a minefield to even start thinking about. We don’t want to do anything wrong with our children and end up scaring them, so there some certain considerations. Here are a few of the best ways to get your children into sport, so that they can reap the rewards.
One of the most important messages, when you’re picking activities for your children to be involved in, is to not overdo it. Many parents make the mistake of getting them intensely involved in just one sport, with weekends and evenings taken up with it. Equally, if they are involved in too many different sports, it can be detrimental too. When they’re only focussed on one, it can take the fun out of it as it is more of a chore. But when there are too many, it can stop them from taking the time to enjoy their favorite one or two.
Is there a magic number of the sports or activities that they should get involved with, though? Around the age of eight or under, they should be doing about two or three a year, as it can help them to learn a broad range of skills. From there, they should then be able to decide which they like and enjoy, and they ones that they are happy to not continue on with.
Give Your Child Choice
To start with, at around the age of four or five, it can be a good idea to ask (or heavily suggest) which team sports they should try out. For some, it might be because of friends doing a certain class or because you as the parent had enjoyed it when you were younger. But after a while, you need to give your children choice over the activities they do. If they’ve tried soccer but really have found themselves to be no good at it, it won’t be good for their confidence to carry on with it. So hear what they have to say about it and let them choose. Of course, giving them some options as to what is viable for you is fine. But don’t sign them up for anything without having that conversation with them.
Along these lines, it is a good idea to check with them what they think they are best at. They might have friends that do the baseball club, but they might actually be better at gymnastics. So speak to them and find out their skills and preferences. They shouldn’t only be going to a sports club because they have friends that go there too.
Support Them With Equipment and Kit
It can be hard as sports kit can cost quite a lot of money, but a few little things here and there can be a good to get for your children. They will feel set up for football or soccer if you’ve researched and got them the best football gloves and boots. The same goes for tennis, the right clothing and perhaps a racket can be really helpful and give them a confidence boost to get going with the sport. Goggles for swimming and a specific towel for their swimming lessons can make it more fun and exciting for them. So where you can, try to support them in their chosen sporting activity with some kit or equipment to help them to excel.
Talk About The Commitment
Before embarking on a sports activity, and before you get any kit for it, it is a good idea to explain what they will need to commit to for it to work. If you are just going to be trying something out for a semester, then they need to know how long they’ll be expected to go for. Then after that time is up, they can let you know if they want to carry on or not. It isn’t a good idea to just stop after two weeks when they don’t want to go anymore. They will learn commitment and dedication when they have to go to something for a number of weeks. It can also give them the right amount of time to hone their skills and to improve. You never know, they might like it enough to carry on after that season or semester.
If you think that you might be giving your child too much to do or get involved with, then there are some signs to look out for. Often they might not communicate it to you as they don’t know how. Or they might feel like they’re letting you down if they say that it is getting too much for them.
So bear in mind your child’s personality and opinions too. Watch out for these signs of burnout:
They will make any excuse to not attend practice, or will regularly complain of being ill on the day of a game or practice.
If your child is getting fed up of the sport (or sports) that they are doing, they won’t talk about it anymore. This could be especially evident if it were something that they always talked about previously.
If you have to wake your child up each morning, then it could be a sign of burnout or exhaustion. It can also be a sign that they aren’t sleeping well because of a feeling of guilt or from feeling depressed or anxious.
If you discover over a number of weeks that they eat much less than they normally do, or regularly complain of feeling sick, then it could be a sign of anxiety that has led from the feeling of being run down.Wow
As you can see, there are many benefits to kids taking part in sport. But there are also many things that they should be thinking about, looking out for, and avoiding if necessary. The most important thing is involving them in the decisions and keeping the communication channels open.