If you are a sports lover, you likely want your child to follow in your footsteps. Perhaps you even want them to love a particular sport. There are many people that dream of being a sports mom, cheering on their littles ones from the bleachers! If this sounds like you, then you need to teach your children to love a sport.
Here are five easy ways to foster that love of sports in your children.
Image via The Baseball Stop
Five ways to teach your child to love a sport
The tips below assume that you are introducing a new sport to your child. These are not necessarily tips for helping a child who has already had negative experiences with sports. Use these tips to expose your child to a new sport in a positive way that will make them love the sport forever.
Expose your child to as port in a fun way
Just as reading to your children helps to foster lifelong reading habits, so does early exposure to sports. Make the sport a game. Don’t just become a coach immediately. Instead, have fun playing the game with your child. The more you have fun, the more likely it will be that they have fun.
The early days of teaching a new sport are the time to help your child learn the basic skills. Kids Ride Wild explain, “Most sports require hand-eye coordination or gross and fine motor skills. That is one of the major benefits of sports for children’s development. However, most children have to learn these skills. Help them master the skills needed for sports consistently and in a fun, relaxed way.”
Step back and give them control
If you are a huge fan of a particular sport, then it may be tempting to push your child towards that sport. This strategy can backfire. Don’t put a lot of pressure on your child to choose a specific sport in the beginning. Allow them to go with the sport they are most drawn to without any judgment.
Talk to your child and ask them what sport they would most like to join. Just keep in mind that giving your child control does not mean that they should be able to choose every single sport. Overscheduling is a great way to lead to burnout. Make your child choose one sport per season to participate in.
Don’t push too hard
As mentioned in tip #1, you want your child’s first exposure to a sport to be positive and relaxed. This will involve not pushing them too hard too fast. It takes time to learn new skills, and sports are a new skill. Many people even argue that children are not ready for competitive sports until they are around ten.
One of the biggest problems with children’s sports is the parents. We’ve all seen the mom or dad who expects their children to be the best of the best right away. Don’t be that parent. It takes the fun out of the sport for your child by creating negative associations. They will be much more likely to want to quit the sport, and your plan will have backfired.
Watch for signs of burnout
If burnout happens, your child will be much less likely to continue participating in the sport. Watch out for the signs of burnout. These include
Trying to skip practice.
No longer talking or excited about the sport.
Constantly tired and/or depressed.
Avoids everything to do with the sport when not on the field.
Noticing any or all of these signs may indicate that burnout is imminent. If that happens, talk to your child. Help them cut back on some of the responsibilities or activities that are causing them stress.
Emphasize effort, not results
It is very easy to get caught up in the results of the sport. We all want to see our children win. But, focusing on the results can be detrimental to your child’s love of the sport. Research shows that praising the effort is just as important as praising the result.
Don’t offer empty praise. An example of this would be praising your child for being on a team even if they never attend practices. Try instead to instill a desire to better themselves and their skills. Praise your child for putting in the effort to get better at the sport, even if they do not win all the time.
Sports are a great way for your child to socialize and exercise. They can teach some very important life skills like dedication, perseverance, and teamwork. It is no wonder that participation in sports is so popular with parents.
However, you are responsible for helping your child love sports. Introduce the sport in the right way and try to keep the pressure to excel to a minimum, and you will have a sports lover on your hands.