There’s no question that physical activity is extremely important for kids.
And playing team sport can help to build confidence, learn social skills and teamwork, and establish longer term healthy lifestyle habits.
Furthermore, studies show that kids who play sport are less likely to be overweight, to abuse drugs or alcohol in later years, or to perform badly in school.
But of course not all kids enjoy sport equally.
And if that’s the case for your child?
You’ve probably wondered how hard to push them to get involved…or even if you should push them at all…
There are many factors to consider.
But it’s important to understand the distinction between a gentle nudge in the right direction, and forcing your kids to do things way beyond their will.
But some kids do rely on a little extra encouragement to get involved in something that might scare them a bit.
This is where you can play a positive role — encourage them to give it a go, and emphasise the importance of trying above all else.
Go a step further and practise some of the skills with them one-on-one. This will not only build their confidence but will also give you some quality time together (which has shown to have numerous other benefits!).
Then, after they gain some confidence, enrol them in a team sport and see how much they like it.
If, after a decent trial run, your child is still dreading Saturday mornings?
It’s probably a good idea to try something else.
(And if they’re not saying so explicitly, take note of any upset tummies or headaches which happen to appear on the night or morning before sport.)
The key is to constantly reinforce the importance of trying, even when you fail, but never pushing past the point of exhaustion.
If you push them too hard, the added stress will only reduce their motivation further.
And if one sport isn’t working?
Get them to try something else.
And if team sports aren’t working in general?
Try more individual sports such as swimming, golf, tennis or martial arts. There are plenty of other sports that can help develop great skills and keep children active, without the pressure of a team environment.
Whatever activity your child favours, make sure to take the pressure off from the sidelines.
Check out the video below to see how kids really feel about your cheerleading efforts!
And remember — keep it fun.