Organized sports can be a fantastic way to impart important life skills to a child. Very quickly they learn the importance of teamwork, diligence, focus, perseverance, patience, and a strong work ethic.
Additionally, sports are a great way for your child to socialize with other children, and bond with you as you help coach them through learning new skills. So why do 70% of children give up sports by the age of thirteen?
There is a variety of reasons, but the most important one to note is that many children lose interest because organized sports stop being fun for them. As parents, it’s important to foster an environment that is not high-stress and where your emotions are directly impacted by your child’s performance.
It is important to let kids be kids, and find ways to foster a love for sports in your child in a way that prioritizes age-appropriate fun. So how do you get your kids to be interested in sports? Children’s interests change at an extremely fast pace in their different developmental stages.
Thankfully there are things as a parent you can do to help foster a love and appreciation for sports, that should help sustain a healthier environment for your child to thrive and grow. We’ve compiled a short list below!
1. Incorporate physical activity into your daily life from an early age
Introducing physical activity into your child’s life from a young age is extremely important to their development. Choosing activities from the time they can move that help promote coordination and dexterity is a great way to get your child active and ready to pick up a sport.
Daily habits are also very important, so getting them moving every day will help tremendously with promoting routine practice.
2. Don’t be overly competitive-
Studies show that children aren’t truly competitive until around age eight. This means their little minds have not developed enough to be able to process the stresses of performance and being scored.
It is important that at this developmental stage, you do not try and pass down any sort of pressure or high expectations onto them.
Additionally, no child like the feeling of disappointing an adult. To make sports an experience your child craves rather than dreads, it’s important that as the parent you make a point to stay positive and not allow any frustration to be communicated to your child. Keep it fun and light!
3. Make small games out of big concept sports-
Developmentally your child may not be able to conceptualize the entire game of basketball, but they do like throwing the ball in the hoops. An important way to help young kids be interested in sports is breaking it up into small mini-games that they can conceptualize and enjoy.
If they’re learning baseball, try creating opportunities to practice running the bases at a different time than hitting the ball with a bat. Remember that kids have short attention spans, so breaking different athletic skills into different games makes working on these skills more attainable.
4. Get outside-
Find ways to get your kids outdoors! Naturally, all of the activities a child can do outside promote healthy physical activity and is a great way to get them moving and not sitting on the couch. Planning family trips that highlight physical activities such as a hike or playing on the beach can be great bonding activities.
5. Watch sports together.
Share your love and passion for the sport with your child. Children naturally respond to enthusiasm, so sharing your excitement is a great way to expose them to the love of the game.
Try taking them to a live game or making it a special night watching on tv where you order pizza. Creating fun standout memories surrounding the game will help it grow in your child’s heart.
6. Play games with your child.
Lead by example, and play the game with your child! Children are always begging their parents to play with them, and playing sports games with your child is a great way to grow their interest. If you are long-distance, there are many apps out there that help you find fun things to do over Facetime, such as playing virtual sports games together.
7. Make sure it’s fun.
There’s a difference between running drills to promote a strong work ethic, and losing touch with what your child really enjoys. Many parents get too caught up in making sure their child isn’t bad at the sport, that they strip the fun out of it for their child. The most important factor in helping a child foster a love for sports is about fostering fun first and foremost.