When your child shows an interest in exercise or sports, it’s time to feel proud. Even the quietest children require a form of exercise to stay healthy, and team sports can often teach many valuable life skills. Of course, not every child should be forced into doing this as a hobby if they really do not want to, but it should absolutely never be discouraged.
However, this doesn’t mean that all things a child might do in the interest of becoming more sporty is worth encouraging, It’s a fine line that you need to walk here, especially because these new hobbies often have a real impact on the development of your child. It could be for the better, but only if you take care of the following responsibilities:
Your child will be putting more stress on their system. For a growing frame, this means it will need to heal even more. You should completely ensure that bedtime is one of the most important parts of your child’s day. This means ensuring that they aren’t allowed any sugary snacks near bedtime, that they have time to wind down, and that television and video games are reduced near bed. Ensure they go to bed at the same time every night, and that their sleep hygiene is well taken care of. According to Mattress Advisor, allowing a child to foster healthy sleeping habits is a direct balance between scheduling and the discipline you employ.
One of the best ways to do this is to make the bedroom a pleasant place to be. Never say no to a nightlight or new bed sheets when they are required, and if your child is having trouble relaxing, consider reading them a bedtime story. With this added sleep quality and potentially more bedtime hours, a child will likely respond to the stress of sporting much better physically, and it shouldn’t impede any other aspect of their lives.
One of the most important things for a child to learn, no matter what sport they decide to do, is safety. This means that while it can be important for them to learn the intricacies of feeling proud of themselves, they should always have safety as fundamental. This means allowing them to feel a sense of pride and agency in the efforts they put down, but also to know how to do that well.
If this means starting small, so be it. Sometimes practicing in your backyard can enable them to be more prepared for next time. This might be worthwhile if they are learning a ball sport, or a simple form of martial art. Weightlifting is often a subject that is brought up. While a child should never be expected to progress to heavier weights, nailing the form with an empty bar could be considered the best way forward. This will allow their bodies to adapt to the neurobehavioural conditioning of a certain activity, and to learn it correctly from the ground up.
Remember that sports are not just sports, or can be reduced to simple and silly physical exercise. Sporting is a symbol for life, it teaches you codes and practices that should help throughout all behavioural situations that your child is likely to encounter. By this we mean a feeling of doing the job right, of learning as much as possible before attempting something yourself, of listening and having the patience to correct mistakes. This is why helping your child learn the intricacies of safety around a sport is the most important thing from the very beginning, and from there they can take pride in their performance.
Fun is something that must be prioritized if you hope for your child to continue this. While winning and losing is possible, fun is the best part at the end of the day. Children are not amazing athletes, and instead of being the best at a sport, learning to love a sport should take priority. This doesn’t mean that you should take any utility or encouragement around winning as part of the equation. It simply means that allowing your child to explore the sport without being pushy or asking too much of them can help them build healthy attitudes regarding it.
Another way to ensure fun is to not reduce the consequences of winning and losing. This might seem counter to our previous point, but it surely isn’t. When a child wins, celebrating that win and letting them feel value in it will enable them to push forward and hopefully motivate them to play again. This also means helping them develop a healthy attitude towards losing. One day, they will lose, be that in a personal or team effort. It must not be said that this is something that is desirable. Children know that it’s not, and falsely trying to make them feel better can often lead them to develop unhealthy attitudes around competition.
However, losing is not all bad. Praising the things they got right as well as discussing the things they can improve is much healthier for a child to hear, and orients them in the competition mindset much more sustainably than simply trying to mitigate their feelings. This way, the fun and importance around sporting competition is preserved and respected, and there’s nothing a budding sporty child enjoys more than that in the long term.
It can pay to invest in equipment if your child shows a commitment to the sport. It’s a very big deal for a child to receive their first martial arts Gi, or their first baseball bat or catchers mitt. Ensure you invest in quality goods, as cheap goods will often break in the short term and seem less than useful. A personal piece of equipment can be a point of pride, and gift your child all that is required to help them feel like a competent and respected member of the sport they hope to learn.
After all of this, you will be one of the best parents supporting their child. Encourage them often, attend their games, and allow them to become interested in the entire affair. When all is said and done, your child will be better for the effort.