As a parent, it’s essential to recognize the fine line between encouraging your child to play sports and placing extreme expectations on them. Putting pressure on children to not only join sports activities but also be excellent at them can have the adverse effect of turning children off sports.
Given the steady increase of mobile device usage, which encourages a sedentary lifestyle, as well as the rising rate of child obesity, turning children off of playing sports is a step in the wrong direction. Already, the percentage of children who regularly play sports declined to 37 percent in 2017 from 41.4 percent in 2012.
If you want to be a better, more supportive parent to your child, it’s not too late! Here are the things you can do to support and encourage their interest in sports:
1. Give your child a pep talk
Sometimes, it’s the kids that put the most pressure on themselves. You can be the most supportive parent and still have a child who gets anxious about their performance in their chosen sport. If this happens, ease their anxiety with encouraging words. Let them know that they’ve worked hard and should have fun while playing. Most importantly, remind them that winning isn’t the only thing that matters.
2. Praise, don’t push
As mentioned earlier, there’s a fine line between encouragement and pressure. You want to be your kid’s cheerleader, not a drill sergeant. So instead of ordering them to do better or practice harder, praise the effort that they’re putting in these activities.
3. Provide the right equipment
If you want a more practical way of supporting your child’s interest in sports, then equipping them with the tools they need can help. Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean buying expensive gear or enrolling them in professional classes. But if your child needs a specific type of shoes for football or a radar gun from Stalker to measure their batting speed, being able to provide these things will go a long way.
4. Attend your child’s events
Another practical way of supporting your child is the simple act of being there for them. You have seen them work hard at practice every day while also balancing their academic performance. You have provided them with the equipment they need. By attending their sporting events, you get to see the fruit of your child’s hard work. Additionally, having a parent to cheer them up while playing can be a huge morale booster, allowing them to perform at their best.
5. Encourage time away from sports
Some children are born to be an athlete, while others are only doing it for fun. Whether your child is the former or the latter, let them know that they deserve to rest. Depending on your and your child’s schedule, find the time every week or month to do other things they enjoy. Doing this can help remind them that the sport they chose doesn’t have to be their life unless they’re determined to make it so.
As a parent, you want your children to be happy and successful at the same time. But no rule that says they can only be one of these things. With gentle encouragement, you can inspire your child to excel in and enjoy playing sports.