As soon as a child can run, kick a ball or play games with other children, sports become an excellent way to help their growth and development. Scientific studies suggest the benefits of sports beyond physical activity. Still, parents who don’t have enough knowledge or experience in athletic events may be hard-pressed to prioritize it. Fortunately, children can participate in a wide variety of sports regardless of their age, physical abilities, or special interests.
How can parents introduce sports to young children and ensure they don’t lose interest in it during their teenage years? We can teach skills and develop young talents, but we should accept that sports aren’t for everyone. Kids are still kids, so they should be allowed to explore their interests and discover their passions.
Still, if parents decide to encourage their children in sports, here are some excellent tips on being consistent and keeping them engaged.
Parents often introduce sports to young children through their national sports team or a local tournament, either as a player or a spectator at the event. It’s important to have sports heroes and role models who the kids can look up to. As children grow older, they should learn how to appreciate talented athletes so they can be motivated rather than intimidated.
A 10-year-old child may be able to run a marathon, but weight lifting may be too much. While we love sports prodigies, it’s the parents’ responsibility to choose sports that match their child’s basic abilities before building up with guidance and support.
While health is the first apparent reason children should play sports, some families may be exposed to other emotional and mental health risks that make sports not ideal for the child. Understanding the child’s health needs should be the priority, while sports is just one way to meet them. For example, many kids grow up with asthma or allergies that discourage them from exerting themselves. Nevertheless, there are ways in which parents can build up their strength physically and mentally, and emotionally so they become sports-minded beyond their teenage years.
Some children live in neighborhoods with no parks, while others may find it challenging to play in a safe space. On the other hand, some youth find recreational courts and playgrounds safer. Sports have many advantages, but there are also disadvantages. Making sure that children feel safe when they engage in sports is key to developing their interest in the long run.
Games often create winners and losers, but sports make players do this for fun. Reminding children that athletes share similarities even though they are rivals sets up a mindset that sports should be enjoyable and not a source of pain or stress. The more kids enjoy an activity, the more they will become independent, learn how to make up their minds, and learn discipline.
As adults, our role is to open opportunities for young kids to explore and realize their potential. Often, parents’ unrealistic expectations set them back or earn them resentment. Being honest with ourselves and our children should be an excellent first step in building a relationship with them through something as thrilling and positive as sports.