Even if they’re not inclined towards sports or athletic pursuits all parents appreciate the formative merits of sports for their kids. They help kids to get more active and lead more active lifestyles (increasingly important in the throes of a global child obesity epidemic). They allow children who are introverted and shy an opportunity to develop their social skills and interact with other kids with whom they wouldn’t normally have contact. They can encourage team building and leadership skills, aid concentration, promote self discipline in ways that will spill into their school work and can help keep mental health issues common in adolescents like anxiety and depression at bay. Moreover… They’re fun! They can be a great antidote to a stressful school day, a valuable bonding exercise for friends and a great way to give a child a sense of belonging and identity.
Of course, all these well documented benefits amount for little if your son or daughter happens to hate sporting activities. While this may be frustrating for parents, the worst thing you can do is pour on the pressure. Often, it’s far more helpful to try and identify the reasons behind their hatred of sports and work with them to help them find an activity that they will benefit from while still having lots of fun. So, let’s look at some common reason why kids may be sport averse…
They get no sense of reward
How long would you keep doing something if you saw no benefit to doing it? For those kids who don’t experience an immediate sense of enjoyment on the playing field, it’s difficult to equate sporting activities with any sense of reward, whatever their parents may say. Yet there are ways in which you can engender a sense of reward. Rewarding participation with anything from a trophy from Trophies Plus Medals to a fun day out out or a special dinner can work wonders. Of course, it’s also possible that they just haven’t found the right sport, in which case, encouraging them to try new experiences may bring with it its own rewards.
They get frustrated because they’re not good at them straight away
Children aren’t among the most patient creatures on the planet… Especially when it comes to themselves. Think back to when you were a kid. Did you hang up your football boots, your karate gi, your guitar or your ballet shoes because you got frustrated with your own lack of progress. Children need to be shown the rewards of perseverance even when their sporting activities seem like a chore.
They compare themselves unfavourably to other kids
There’s nothing more damaging to a developing psyche than seeing someone they know far exceed their capability in something they care about. In some cases it can drive them to push themselves harder, but in most it’s more likely to sour them on the activity altogether. It’s important to encourage your kids not to measure their performance by that of their peers, but of themselves. Encourage them to beat their own personal bests and reward that mentality when you see it in practice.
With just a little patience and a lot of understanding you can help you kids to lead healthier and more active lives.