It is widely understood that sport and regular physical activity play a crucial role in childhood development. From overall health and well-being, to cognitive ability and muscular growth, there is plenty of research to support the fact that children who lead active lives are more likely to succeed and grow into strong, confident, healthy young people.
Yet for some parents, despite having the best intentions, it can be a real struggle to get their kids interested in participating in sports. This can lead to frustration and anxiety, making parents feel that they’ve somehow failed, with the children themselves inevitably picking up on the fact that their parents seem disappointed.
Thankfully, there are lots of ways to get your child into sports, including summer sports camps with athletic programs for kids. These camp programs are not only fun, but also encourage a stronger bond between the child and the sport.
Here are seven effective ways on how to get your child into sports actively:
1. Focus on the best parts of the sports
As a parent, you want to find interesting ways on how to get your child into sports. The toughest part is persuading your child to give the sport a chance. In order to facilitate the development of a positive approach to the activity, it is important to focus on the best aspects of what the sport has to offer.
This means taking the emphasis off of winning and competition, and highlighting principles like teamwork, friendship and fun. These are all natural components of involvement in sports, and they are the ones that will end up having the most profound impact on a young person’s emotional and intellectual growth.
2. Consider your child’s habits and feelings
By emphasizing these features, which will continue to serve the child over the course of their entire life, it is less likely that interest in the sport will wane if things becomes challenging. When a child starts to feel bad about themselves due to poor performance or lack of team wins, they will be inclined to lose interest or start to associate sports with negative feelings.
3. Keep the pressure low
Too much pressure will deter your child from getting excited about sports. Related to this phenomenon, which often causes children to lose interest in sports around the age of 12 or 13 (as they become more aware of pressure being putting on them), is frustration that they aren’t being heard.
A child is bound to feel irritated if they sense they’re being forced to excel in a sport which they don’t feel naturally called to. Too much emphasis on how important it is for them to practice and do well will often lead the child to reject the sport completely, as they start to feel it is overtaking their identity as an individual.
4. Provide lots of sports options
It is important to remember that childhood is an important time for discovery and experimentation, and that kids should be encouraged to try out as many things as possible. Ideally, children will be free to find their own passions and cultivate a set of interests that arises from their own initiative.
If they try out a sport and simply don’t seem to derive any joy from it, don’t force it. Try to assess what it was that made them feel uncomfortable and take that into consideration when suggesting a new activity to try.
5. Lead your child by example
Leading by example is a great way to get your child into sports. Children who see their parents incorporating sports and physical activity into their day-to-day lives will naturally gravitate towards doing the same. They’ll absorb the fact that sports are important if they see you making it a priority and carving out the time in your schedule to participate in something active.
If exercise has always personally been hard for you to find time for, try to look for a laidback and fun activity that doesn’t require too much planning or equipment. Even if it’s just getting out a few times a few for a walk with a friend, it will give you something to point towards to show your child the importance of movement for a healthy body.
6. Do the sport together with your child
Or take your lead by example approach one step further and participate in a sport together with your child. They will likely be excited to spend the extra time with you and having you by their side will put them at ease, so they’ll focus less on the daunting aspects of trying something new. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to start coaching the soccer team either.
Start with something simple like doing for a bike ride together or playing catch in the yard. Notice what they enjoy and find ways to maybe dial it up a notch, such as renting mountain bikes for the weekend or hitting the basketball court together.
7. Don’t make a chore out of the sport
Finally, it is important to remember that you want sports to be something your child truly enjoys and will end up pursuing on their own accord. If they feel like it’s something they’re required to do, they’ll have less of a chance of developing a real passion for it. Above all else, do what you can to make sure they’re having fun.