It’s no secret that the youth of America are desperately in need of encouragement when it comes to participation in sports and athletic activities. According to research conducted by the Sports and Fitness Industry Association in 2015, just 26.6% of six- to 12-year-olds and 39.3% of 13- to 17-year-olds are engaged in regular sports to a healthy degree. These figures, while tragic, are no longer shocking – experts approximate that one in three children are now overweight, with large numbers of youths distancing themselves from physical activity.
Sports can enrich children’s lives in ways that many academic subjects cannot. Some of the vital skills taught through sports include teamwork, social skills, the concept of wholesome competition, a love of the great outdoors, motivation, commitment, and discipline. Not to mention, they offer a myriad of health benefits. So, what can parents do to encourage their children to participate in and enjoy sports?
Find the Right Sport:
First, you need to find a sport that captures your child’s imagination. While it can be tempting to push your little one toward a sport that you enjoy playing or watching, it’s important to be mindful of your child’s interests. Does he or she like that sport too, or will the pressure of pleasing you prove too much? Consider sports that you child seems to have a genuine aptitude for.
Involve the Whole Family:
The best way to engage your child in physical activity is to lead by example. Children of inactive parents without an interest in sports are likely to become the same way as adults. Whenever possible, engage your family in physical activity, whether it be a walk to the park, a bicycle ride or a game of baseball. Your child can learn valuable motor skills from a game of throw and catch, so never exclude any form of exercise from your family’s routine.
Attend Every Game:
If you played sports regularly as a child, then you may remember the feelings of gratitude and excitement that you experienced whenever you saw your parents in the crowd. There’s nothing quite like parental encouragement when it comes to playing and enjoying sports. One of the easiest ways to encourage your child in sports is to show that his or her favorite hobby matters to you as well. Remind your child that you’ll always be there to cheer the team on.
Choose a Sports-focused School:
If your child is developing an interest in sports then it might be worth considering sending him or her to a school that places an emphasis on athletics as well as academic abilities. You may want to consider overseas schools, particularly if you’re prone to traveling for work. For example, there are some fantastic international schools in Singapore, with many boasting athletic development programs that your child would no doubt relish.
Make it Fun:
Your child might not be the fastest, most agile or best player, but there’s far more to participating in athletics than winning. The enjoyment that can be garnered from playing a sport will usually outweigh the likelihood of winning a prize. Take comfort from the fact that your child enjoys a sport and leave it at that. An intense approach could lead to pressure that damages your child’s willingness to participate.
The benefits of sports for children are plain to see, as those who spend an average of 60 minutes each day engaged in physical activity are more likely to avoid obesity and be happy. There’s usually little effort needed to inspire children to pursue athletics. Once you’ve found a sport that your child likes and offered a little gentle encouragement, his or her passion for physical activity will likely follow.