Not every child is genetically predisposed to being good at sport, and even those who are sometimes having trouble keeping their inspiration to compete. Even if your child isn’t naturally gifted, light, friendly team sports can help your child develop socially and understand the benefits of sportsmanship, team spirit and keeping good attitudes toward adversity.
Sometimes though, it can feel like you’re being an imposing parent encouraging your child to take part, especially if they have a shy disposition. This article is not addressing how to force your child into team sports, but should they have the willingness to tentatively take their first steps into playing one, they will have the best and most encouraging atmosphere to do so within.
Allow Your Child To Fail And Give Them Perspective On It
Even with the best intentions, and even if your child joins the lightest and less competition focussed team sports, they are going to fail. Even in a singular pursuit such as martial arts, it will take a few months for them to get even the basics down. This is normal and should be treated as such. If you child is struggling with the overwhelming difficulty of an obstacle, don’t force them to fight against it, but make them aware that struggling is a part of life and that there are good and bad ways to deal with it.
The earlier your child is able to grapple with this the better the beneficial impact it will have on their social development. It will also teach temperance, patience, integrity, and willingness to try again, four qualities that will prove invaluable through the course of their life. Even if their team often lose, you are building exercise habits that are safe, healthy and fun! That’s always beneficial.
Don’t Force Your Child
There are many sporting activities than can help a child flourish socially, as well as helping them get out of their comfort zone. But if they’re really not feeling up to it, don’t force them. There are many places they can learn similar skills. Sometimes it might be a chess club after school, swimming lessons, or a playgroup you can take them to (age dependant.) There will always be a child with a similar temperament to yours, so don’t be afraid to take a little time finding the right atmosphere for them.
However, sometimes ‘firmly encouraging’ them doing something they initially thought was too difficult or scary can lead to a wealth of benefits once they realize it’s not as bad as they initially thought. Use your discernment here, because every situation and child are different.
Encourage & Support Your Child
If they do decide to try for a sport or activity, make sure to encourage them! Take them on time, make sure they’re equipped with the right equipment, and support them through the ups and downs of their experience. Ask them questions about it, show them that you really care about what they do. They’ll often try even harder to impress you if you’re showing positive feedback. Children learn by osmosis, as whatever you’re interested in will usually interest them.
It works the opposite way too, taking an interest in their affairs and adventures will only re-dedicate them to that activity. It’s a wonderful feedback loop that could have your child ever increasingly willing to take on new challenges. This can be very important during their developmental stage so be sure not to neglect it. If it means purchasing specialist equipment such as a Fungo bat, found here: http://www.thebaseballdiamond.com/every-coach-needs-best-fungo-bat/, or a catcher's mitt for baseball, making sure they’re well equipped will give them fresh excitement for their pursuit.
Play With Them Yourself
If your child is into playing baseball, try throwing a few balls in the yard. If your child is involved in chess, consider playing a game with them. This kind of parental involvement really helps enthuse a child towards reaching the next step, and this will bleed into all aspects of their life, such as getting better grades or dealing with the school bully in a less fearful way, such as telling a teacher immediately instead of bottling their emotions up.
Don’t Expect Too Much
A child is just that, a child, even if they’re at the top of their year groups sports team, they’re not a professional athlete. They’re a child. Treat them as such. You can find tips for doing so here: http://successfulmommyadvice.com/bear-mind-moving-home-kids/. It might be tempting as a parent to get your child to achieve as much as they possibly can, but this should never overtake parental common sense and compassion. It’s easy for a child to desire overachievement as a way to keep getting the compliments they receive when they do well, but in order to give them a healthy perspective towards the nuance of their chosen hobby, you need to let them place at their own pace. This will reinforce their ability to stay happy and keep progressing tenfold.
Overall, the best thing a parent can instill in a child when it comes to sport is to have fun safely. That should be your only priority, the only priority of your coach, and the only priority as a parent you should have.
If your child is naturally gifted at their chosen sport, they should be given every chance of success. But right now are the formative years of their development, and this is where the foundations should be crafted. They’ll have plenty of time to make a name for themselves once they reach late adolescence and adulthood, so be sure you’re on the right side of the fence now and help them to find pleasure in their hobby, instead of finding it a chore or worst of all, work.
Letting a child be themselves is paramount in this circumstance, and, if properly maintained, will help them become better people as they grow, and more importantly, make lasting memories with their friends.
These are the years that your child will remember the most, so be a considerate, helpful and rational parent, and your child is sure to thank you!