How Do I Get My Kid Started in Sports

Sports can be a fun way to introduce your child into a lifelong healthy lifestyle. Children need physical activity for growth and development, and sports participation helps with this goal. Playing sports can promote socialization and teamwork. This is important in the child’s development of self-esteem and goal setting. Some tips for encouraging your child to get involved in sports include:

Stay fit yourself—Be a good role model. Your kids are watching you more than you think. If you have a healthy lifestyle, they are more inclined to emulate these positive exercise experiences.

Play sports with your child—Encourage your child to move away from television and computers and play outside. Simple running, kicking a ball, or playing outdoor games can promote a fun experience from which the child builds. Organize a family or parent-child outdoor activity such as a biking or swimming activity. Make it fun, so the child will want to do it again.

Allow for free play—Under the age of five, free play is best. Running, water play or swimming, and biking (with training wheels, if needed) are great ways to encourage physical activity and to promote physical development and coordination. As the child grows, team sports participation can be introduced, usually around the age of 5 or 6. Before then, the attention span may not lend itself to team efforts. Taking the child to organized athletic events as a spectator on a regular basis can also introduce the child to various team sports. The child may express an interest in participation in one of these sports. You don’t have to take the child to a professional event. Merely taking the child to a little league soccer or baseball game may show them that other kids are doing physical activities and having fun, so they may want to join in.

As a parent, it is important to be sure the child is in a safe environment with proper coaching and equipment needed for the sport. Parents should be supportive and let the child enjoy themselves. Positive reinforcement promotes self-esteem and confidence. Don’t put excessive pressure on the child. Remember, you are the parent trying to teach positive growth in physical activities. You are not the child’s sports agent. Be sure you try to keep it fun and safe.

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