The general benefits of participating in sports are common knowledge: from keeping your heart healthy to defending against diabetes and other diseases, getting active in a competitive setting has long been established by experts as a means to longevity.
For kids, the advantages of sports are even more obvious. Regular sports exercise has been proven to help develop your child’s mental, motor, hand-eye, interpersonal, and physical skills. However, some children are less keen to get involved with sports than others. In this case, the parent should try to inject as much fun as possible into sports – which is where these 5 tips come in handy.
Test out everything and anything
Present the vast array of sports as a fun smorgasbord from which your kid can freely choose. Remember that even if your kid is athletic, they may quickly bore of their chosen sport, meaning that you may have to guide them to a new activity that they’ll enjoy. The key is to establish open conversations around sports early on so you can easily determine which activities your kids have tested and either liked or disliked.
Utilize technology (to start with)
For kids who are more used to watching TV in front of the couch than kicking a ball around outside, many parents find it useful to exploit technology to spark an initial interest in sports. Show kids media that promotes a positive view of sports, such as films like The Karate Kid, Center Stage, and Seabiscuit, and major sports coverage like the Olympics. Watching professional and on-screen athletes can inspire children to work towards their own sports goals – away from the TV.
Watch live sports together
Establish a home culture in which you watch live sports as a family. Attending a large sports competition or showcase can make a great night or morning out for the whole family, and will help your children associate sport with happy, positive family memories. Combine a nice lunch or dinner out with a trip to a BMX competition or the latest ballet show, and many kids will be greatly entertained.
Be their (fun) personal coach
Don’t get us wrong – most kids will never get on the exercise bandwagon willingly if their parents nag them to run around the block every afternoon. However, a joint passion for sport can forge a very special bond between a parent and child. If you determine to invest quality time in helping your son or daughter improve in their chosen field, you’ll help to enhance their existing skill-set and enjoy watching them grow their skills.
You don’t necessarily need a whole shed of resources at your disposal. For instance, if your child takes up trampolining or is keen on learning gymnastics, your backyard trampoline is as good an apparatus as any (and great fun to boot).
Sport-ify your family holidays
Another way of naturalising sports and exercise within your family lifestyle is to base your family holidays around sports. Go skiing in the mountains or combine camping vacations with biking, kayaking, and hiking. If you only have a weekend afternoon to spare, take your family mountain or rock climbing in a nearby nature reserve. Cultivate some friendly competitiveness between your kids, and you will have guaranteed fun!