Education is a vital part of a child’s development. However, some parents might be too focused on it that other aspects crucial for child growth are often overseen. That includes introducing them to sports and other outdoor activities.
Sports are an excellent way to teach children important life values that lead them towards success in life. In addition, sports allow team participation among children, encouraging camaraderie, sportsmanship, discipline, and the chance to experience nature. Thus, decreasing the risks of developing anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.
Moreover, it helps curb the growing number of childhood obesity, high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, and other life-threatening illnesses. But of course, this doesn’t mean letting your child run around the neighborhood for a few minutes is enough. This area requires dedication and well-thought strategies to successfully engage the child in sports without causing them anxiety and fear.
Walk the talk
Children learn by example. They observe everything and everyone around them and mimic what they see. That’s how they understand how life works.
And because this can make or break a child, parents and coaches must lead by example. That means you can’t demand your child to attend football practices because it’s good for their health while they see you binge-watching TV all day and eating junk foods. Instead, consider taking them to their practice fields.
Make healthy snacks that they can share with their buddies later on. Encourage them to have a morning jog with you or play some catch in their free time. If they are interested in particular games, show your support and guide them on sports know-hows.
For instance, children interested in ball sports such as baseball needs proper guidance in choosing age-appropriate bat size. This can help prevent accidents or injuries and let them move swiftly throughout the game. Likewise, if they are into nature-adventure sports such as biking, gradually teach them the basics of riding a bike. That includes road safety and wearing knee protection and helmets. Remember, a child’s openness towards sports starts with you.
Make sure not to overdo it
There is a thin line separating the good and the ugly side of competitiveness. And because toddlers are still in the stage of learning their way through their motor skills, parents and coaches are tasked to guide them all the way through. That includes striking a balance and being on the lookout for signs that they are going overboard.
While it’s okay to tell your child to do their best and enjoy the game, avoid pressuring them into winning and then make them feel guilty if they don’t meet your expectations. Remember, this isn’t about you nor the victory. Instead, games are meant to be celebrated and serve as a lesson with whatever result there is.
More than telling or intentionally letting your child win, let them know that losing is an integral part of the game, and eventually, life. Therefore, occasionally experiencing it is okay. Instead, teach them how to understand defeat and better manage their frustrations.
Allow them to recognize their emotions and guide them on what to do when things don’t go their way. Remember that mistakes are there for us to learn. There is healing in acceptance. And you need to be there for them to cultivate this skill to better serve them later in life.
Let kids be kids
While planning for the child’s future and discovering various skills is essential, guardians need to avoid putting too much stress on their kids to the brink of burnout. For example, while you may think you are helping by enlisting them in several after-class practices or hiring a coach to be with them on the weekend, you may just be doing your child more harm than good.
Remember that sports are a way for children to seek physical, social, and emotional connection and development. Therefore, you need to let them enjoy it. Show your interest in your child’s all ups and downs. Be more present and encourage discussion about what they feel after a long day.
Most importantly, let them be kids. Don’t focus too much on introducing sports that you forget life outside it. This means giving them time to rest and be kids for a day or two. Bring them to museums, watch a sports game with them live, or simply help them with homework.
Regardless of your youngster excelling in specific sports, listening to what they really want is crucial. Introduce them to various sports and let them decide which one they would like to pursue. Understanding that children have different paces and preferences, is excellent because it gives them character and individuality. So be there for them every step of the way and let sports do wonders on their entire well-being and development.