One resolution that families often make at the beginning of a year is that they’re going to be healthier in the months ahead. Often, the idea of participating in sports comes up and is quickly discounted. Parents can find it tricky to get kids interested in sports and there are always practical considerations such as transportation, time and supervision.
The thing is, there are always reasons not to do something, but there’s always a way to make it work. All it takes is a little perseverance and, sometimes, a little sidestepping to find the right way forward for your child.
Here are our top tips for getting kids more interested and involved in sports this year.
Don’t Narrow Their Options
Schools are often limited on which sports they offer in lessons and which ones are available for kids to join at lunchtime or after school. Consequently, they might feel as though they’re confined to traditional school sports such as football, netball, athletics and aerobics. Some kids might enjoy these activities, but they’re not for everyone and finding a sport that your child’s interested in will make all the difference.
Introduce them to as many sports options as possible and see what takes their fancy. Grab some magazines or books from the library to get some inspiration and don’t criticise their suggestions if those sports are usually played by kids of the opposite gender. Quashing their hopes of participating offhand without looking into the matter might crush their enthusiasm for sports altogether.
Encourage Them to Go Outside More
Plenty of kids would rather be inside on their iPads than be outside with the wind rushing through their hair. It’s true that some sports don’t take place outside but being outside generally promotes exercise more than being inside. The act of getting out, and even playing with some of their favourite outdoor toys can help to trigger an interest in activity. From there, it’s a small step to getting them participating in the sport of their choice.
Get Involved Yourself
Here’s the problem – kids often don’t think of sports as something they should participate in because they don’t see their parents participating either. Getting active and getting healthier can be a family accomplishment for the year, but parents have to be as open to the idea as they’d like their children to be.
Of course, it’s not easy and there may be time constraints as well as other participation barriers. However, no one’s saying that you have to join a professional team or start working towards the Olympics, taking small steps are a simple way of getting your kids started. Lets not forget, you’ll happily sit and play with their favourite thomas toys or blind bags - putting on some sports kit and going to the park is actually the same you just might get a little wet during the winter! Another great option is to take up yoga or other indoor activities with your children. Participating in exercise of any variety will set a good example for the kids, plus it’ll improve your own health too.
Make it a Positive Experience
We’ve all heard about those parents who (often with the best of intentions) either push their child to take part in a sport they’re not interested in or are disappointed when their child doesn’t excel in whatever they choose to do. Wanting your children to do well is nothing to be ashamed of, but you run the risk of kids associating sports activities with parental pressure. If they’re doing it for fun rather than to be a sports star, you risk putting them off entirely.
Remember Kids Need Variety
Unless your child is completely engrossed in their chosen sport, the odds are that it will simply be one of many things they do. As parents know all too well, kids have short attention spans, and this will likely apply to sports practice too. So, if you take them to the park to practice football or go to the indoor climbing wall, remember that their interest in each session won’t last as long as you perhaps think it should.
For kids, sports are often seen as something they have to do rather than something they want to do. This impacts their enjoyment and, so, making sure that they’re not being compelled to participate for longer than they want to will help keep them interested in the long-term.
Involve Their Friends
While the fact that kids often want to do what their friends are doing can get irritating, there might be a way you can work it to your advantage if either your child or their friends are interested in sports. Join forces with other parents to create an environment where the kids can explore their favourite sport and practice together. This could be as simple as booking out a tennis court as a group once a week or having parents alternating in taking the kids swimming. While you’re encouraging teamwork in your kids, don’t forget to practice it yourself!
Pay Attention and Be Interested
It’s safe to say that some of the things our kids do are little boring to us as adults. However much we love them, it can be difficult to feign enthusiasm when the fifth consecutive portrait of something that looks vaguely like a dog is delivered into your lap. Yet not giving them any positive reassurance about what they’re doing could backfire and they may find their enthusiasm tempered. So, ask questions about what they’ve been practising and get them to show you their skills if appropriate. Just being interested can have a huge positive impact on their enthusiasm.
Don’t Make it a Chore
Sport and exercise can be opportunities for kids to relieve stress, but it can occasionally add to their stress and anxiety if they feel compelled to take part in something that they’re not deriving any enjoyment from. It could be that they’ve grown out of that sporting activity or that they would simply rather do something else. From a parental perspective, this can be frustrating as you see them getting good at something and then switching to something else. However, if exercise and healthiness are the goals, ask yourself whether it matters if they switch to something that they find more suited to them. As long as they’re exercising and they’re happy doing it, that’s the important thing.
Taking the next steps into getting your children into sport is so important - what will they be doing? where will they be going? Sometimes starting at home can be a great start, our online toy sale is full of outdoor and sports toys to kick start 2019 as the year of doing. Whether you’re looking for skipping ropes, footballs, activity toys or outdoor toys, we really do have something for everyone.
What sports will you be taking up with your children this year? Let us know in the comments box below…