As a sports-loving guy, I know the benefits of playing in a team and getting involved with sports of all kinds from an early age. The exercise, the teamwork, the self-esteem – it’s all there for your kids, and incredibly beneficial. But what happens if your children don’t take any interest in sports? Or, worse, if they just can’t stand the thought of playing basketball, soccer, football or hockey?
It happens to plenty of kids. And as hard as it might be for sports-loving parents, it’s important to understand the mere fact that certain kids don’t get on with team sports. Everyone is different, and pushing them towards doing something they despise is never going to end well. Instead, parents should take a sensible approach – and try other tactics to instill the importance of regular exercise and healthy activity.
Here are a few ideas that should help you meet the challenges of how to get – and keep – your sports-averse children exercising and enjoying physical activity.
Don’t force the issue
First of all, if your children genuinely don’t like a sport, don’t twist their arm to continue. The simple truth is that some kids – the more shy and introspective types – tend to prefer activity on their own or in smaller groups. As we all know, the big game team sports like football and baseball involve a lot of people, and unless your child has an extrovert side, it can be an unnerving experience. It can be disappointing for parents who have dreamt of guiding their son or daughter to pro level – we’ve all been there! But remember – your child is not you. And no matter how much you want to relive your life through them, it’s never going to happen – particularly if you push them into something they don’t feel comfortable with!
Look at the alternatives
Just because your kid doesn’t like team sports, doesn’t mean they will dislike all sports. And let’s be honest, there are hundreds – if not thousands – of different options for children who prefer solitary activity. Swimming is a good start, but if they don’t like the water, why not something like a martial art? Tennis is another excellent sport for children, as it is much quieter than the boisterousness of team sports. Sure, some kids might find the tennis court a little stuffy, but if they love hitting balls, they can get a bit more ‘street’ with something like pickleball. A quick glance over at wolfesports.com and it’s clear to see that kids will love the bright colors and interesting designs of the bats and balls. Not to mention the fact that you can play pretty much anywhere you like. Finally, get your kids riding a bike as soon as possible. Not only will it help them start enjoying being active, but they will also get a sense of freedom. Teaching your kids to ride a bike can be a long-haul, but you only need to do it once – and you can all enjoy family bike rides together for many years to come.
Lead by example
Don’t forget, your child’s activity levels are your responsibility, so it’s important to lead by example. Is it much of a surprise if your child doesn’t like physical activity if you spend all your time sitting on the couch watching TV? So, get outside and be a lot more active with your children. Keep things fun at all times, and try different things like rollerblading, hiking, or even jogging. At some point you will find something that your kids love to do – and that’s your chance to make the most out of it. Who knows, maybe you will find an inner passion that you didn’t know existed? By making sure you do a broad range of activities as a family, you are more likely to uncover a hidden talent or love for something active.
The alternatives to sports
When we think of being active, a lot of parents only consider sports. But there are many other areas to explore, which can still help your child live a physically active lifestyle. Go to any kids drama class in your community, for example, and you might be surprised at how physical it is – perhaps your child will have a love for the stage, rather than the field? Dancing is another excellent activity for children, which will help them with flexibility, strength, and coordination. Even something like video games can be a healthy experience, as long as you choose the right games. As venturebeat.com point out, the Wii U encourages lots of jumping and dancing with some of its games, and it’s fun and exciting way for kids to get a little exercise indoors. The point is, just because your children don’t like team sports doesn’t mean they will be inactive – you just have to be a little more creative with how you approach exercise and activity.
Don’t let your emotions take over
As mentioned earlier in this post, it’s easy for parents to feel disappointed if their kids don’t pursue a particular sport. As a society, many people look up to athletes and have fantastic memories of playing team sports as a kid. That’s a pot3ent combination, and many moms and dads dream of having kids and giving them the same experiences. But the truth is that all children are unique, and although they will share some of your traits, no gene fires off an interest in the same sport you loved as a child. In fact, the chances are that their interests will lie in completely different areas, and you are going to have to deal with your disappointment. Be honest about your feelings, of course, and talk about them with your partner and your kids. And, finally, put those disappointments to one side – for good – and support your child in the activities they feel comfortable with. Who knows – perhaps your child will spark an interest and love for an alternative sport that you never knew existed?
It’s vital to encourage your children to lead an active and healthy lifestyle. But pushing them into a particular sport that you love and they don’t is more likely to backfire than not. Be open to their suggestions, and encourage them to find an activity they enjoy, and you can ensure they lead a healthy life and a fun childhood. Good luck!