Unless your young child is on their way to the Olympics, sports should be more about fun and learning than the serious stuff! You’ve seen the parents on the sideline of the soccer field screaming “Go! Go! Go! Get that ball. Get that other kid out of the way!” And, that’s at a preschool game. Then there are the high-profile cases that the media picks up on (like the hockey dad who shattered the glass barrier). Instead of shouting, screaming, and throwing tantrums to get your child at the top of their game, try the opposite. Keeping sports kid-friendly is a must-do when introducing athletics to young children. How can you help to keep the fun up and nix the training tirades?
Play Up Interests
Just because you’ve always imagined yourself as a pro basketball player, doesn’t mean that your child has to follow your footsteps. While giving your child options and exposing them to different types of sports is key, pushing them to play when they have absolutely no interest is a whole other issue. Imagine how you would feel if someone forced you to do something that you can’t stand. Would you think that the activity was fun or dread doing it? Your child feels the same way when you pick all their activities for them. Instead, try taking their opinion and interests into consideration.
Have Realistic Expectations
Not every child is meant to be a super-star athlete. While some kids excel at sports, others are not born-athletes. If your child isn’t the number one player, never scores a goal, often strikes out, or doesn’t make the all-star team, don’t worry. This doesn’t mean that they have to quit. Set goals or expectations that don’t always involve winning or being in the front of the pack. For example, instead of expecting your 8-year-old to score four out of the five winning soccer goals, have more realistic goals such as try as hard as they can, stay active, support their team and show good sportsmanship.
Think About Age
Remember, we’re talking about ‘children’s sports, and not pro football training. This is the time for your child to build a true love for the game, and not feel like he has to win, win, win. Take your child’s age and developmental level into consideration. Ask yourself if the sport, coaching and training/practices are appropriate for your child’s age. If any part of it is well out of your child’s league, it may be time to move on and try another activity.
Above all, keep a positive attitude and praise your child. Being the parent who is jumping onto the field, yelling at the coach, or is barking orders is never fun – not for you and certainly not for your child.