Playing sports has many benefits for children; it keeps them physically fit and sets them up with a healthy attitude for fitness going forwards; it encourages teamwork and skills for life such as adaptation, leadership, and how to deal with different situations positively; and it is great for mental health, confidence, and stimulation. Follow these tips to help support kids in sport, whatever sport they are interested in.
Being involved in sports can take up a lot of time, money, and energy. When your child shows an interest in taking up a sport, make sure you familiarize yourself with what it will entail. Be prepared to give up some of your free time to take your child to practice, games or competitions – especially as they progress or begin to take it more seriously. Find out if they will need specialist kit or equipment and find out how much that will cost. It may be that you don’t want to spend too much at first, in case your child tires of the sport, but as time goes on, you may need to spend more.
One of the most popular sports among children in America is baseball, for which you will at least need a good quality glove, and some of the best options are worth spending a little extra on. Other expenses may include memberships, travel and competition fees.
Offer Mental and Emotional Support
Being emotionally present is one of the most important things you can do for a child. Sports can be emotionally challenging, so you should strive to be someone they can rely on to help them through this. Be supportive regardless of what they achieve and praise their effort or improvement more than the outcome of games. Support whatever they want to get out of the activity, not what you want them to achieve, and most importantly – let them have fun! You should also never use sport as a punishment, for example, by making a child run laps, or having to practice for longer.
No matter their age, all children can take some responsibility for their equipment. Allow them to pack their own bags, and even clean their own equipment. This will give them a sense of pride and stand them in good stead both in sport, and in life in general.
Lead by Example
Children pick up on more than we realize and feed off the emotions and behavior of the adults around them. Be a good role model for how to behave and how to manage emotions, by being calm before events and respectful while they are ongoing. Always show respect to coaches, referees, and other players to encourage children to do the same.
Encourage a Healthy Lifestyle
Although the occasional treat and junk food meal won’t do any harm, a well-balanced and healthy diet is important to keep children in the best condition to do well in their chosen sport. Try to ensure they eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, protein, and stay well hydrated, preferably by drinking water. A good level of general fitness will also be beneficial, especially if you make it a family activity not related to the sport, such as hiking, which will be good for both body and mind.
Ultimately, the best way to support a child in sports is to be there in any way that they need and remember that their needs may differ over time. Sometimes, they might need a shoulder to cry on if a game hasn’t gone well, and you may need to pick them up and remind them of the positives. Sometimes, they may need you to keep them level-headed. Being a loving, positive figure will always go a long way.
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