How To Help Your Child Choose a Sport
Participating in sports as a kid offers a lot of potential benefits that can last a lifetime. Athletics can help kids maintain physical health, develop social skills, and expend their time and energy in constructive activities, leaving little time left over for risky behaviors. However, as a parent, there is a right way and a wrong way to go about encouraging your child to participate in sports. If you go about it the wrong way, your child may resist participation or look at it as a chore that he or she has to perform in order to please you. Your task as a parent is not to choose a sport for your child but to help your child choose a sport that he or she will enjoy.
1. Consider Your Child's Temperament
A child who enjoys a lot of attention may be excited and energized by softball cheers. However, a child who is introverted or sound sensitive may feel frightened or embarrassed to be the object of so much attention from the crowd. For children such as these, a quieter sport, such as golf, or a team sport that doesn't focus so much attention on individual players, such as soccer, may be a better option.
2. Offer Many Different Choices
The best sport for your child is often the one that he or she shows the most interest in playing. You should give your child the opportunity to learn about many different sports, and try them out if possible. This gives your child the opportunity to find out what sparks his or her interest.
If your child shows particular interest in a certain sport, that is something to explore further. Do not try to push your child to take up a sport in which he or she does not show interest, even if it is something that you particularly enjoy. You may meet with pushback which, by the way, is entirely justified. Conversely, the child may go along with what you want just to please you but not derive any enjoyment from it and drop the sport at the first opportunity.
3. Get a Doctor's Advice
Before your child gets too involved in a certain sport, you should find out from a doctor whether the activity is a good fit or could have negative effects on your child's health. This is especially important if your child has chronic health problems or has had issues in the past. Even if a particular activity poses an unreasonable risk, it does not necessarily mean that your child cannot participate in sports at all. Your doctor may be able to suggest an alternative activity that does not exceed a child's physical limitations. This is part of the reason why it is important to expose your child to a variety of sports so that if one activity is not feasible, he or she may be able to pursue a second option that is also of interest.
4. Gauge Your Child's Maturity Level
You should think about emotional maturity as well as physical maturity. Is your child a good sport who has learned how to handle losing, or is he or she likely to throw a temper tantrum with defeat? If the latter, it may be a good idea to hold off on getting involved in organized sports, perhaps pursuing something that is a little less structured instead.
If your child's chosen sport is too advanced for his or her physical maturity level, you may be able to choose an alternative that is geared more towards younger kids. This allows your child to learn essential skills in a lower-stakes setting that he or she can build on as he or she grows and matures. For example, if you have a young child who is interested in baseball or softball, he or she can join a T-ball team. This allows him or her to get a grasp of the basic concepts involved while you gauge his or her interest.
Remember that just because you are interested in a particular sport or activity doesn't mean that your child will be. You should adjust your expectations and be open to your child's interests.