We already know the importance of sport in our kids’ developmental years. While our children get to engage in some level of activity in school during physical education, there may be other parental concerns over how much activity is sufficient, are our kids even liking the sport they are involved in, and what else or more can be done.
Why are some kids not interested in sport?
Parents can start by reflecting how we position sport to our children. Do we create pressure for them to pursue an obligation they are not interested or talented in? Do we impose certain expectations of them in sport? Do we forget to ensure our kids have enough time for rest and other things they like to do? Do we allow them to over-indulge in screen-time, and develop a sedentary lifestyle?
These are definitely not positive reinforcement to encourage them to enjoy sport, particularly if we hope they can sustain a lasting momentum and passion.
Add to that, other turn-off factors they may face in school, with coaches or among peers. They may feel – or be made to feel - bad about not being as good as others. They may not have learnt to embrace mistakes or losing, and teamwork. Or, they may not have found the sport they really like.
What can we as parents do to help our kids change their perception of sport?
Keep expectations in check. And this includes both ours as parents and our kids’. Our kids don’t need to become sport champions. Neither do they need to be compared with other kids in everything they do. Our kids just need to know as long as they try their best, it’s good… and while they are at it, get fit and have fun! The extra bonus is, they will also be picking many life and soft skills along the way.
Allow our kids to explore a variety of sport. There are just so many to choose from! Be it solo or team sport, outdoor or indoor, why just pick one? By being exposed to multi-sport, our kids benefit from improved coordination and muscle control, increased aerobic fitness, gained confidence and stronger fundamental movement skills. But do take note of our kids’ tendency to get bored or give up easily – give them a sufficient period to truly experience each sport and find out what is it that your kid like or dislike about each.
Avoid over-scheduling. An average 2 to 3 sports a year will be optimal, not forgetting your child needs time and energy for other important activities, as well as to rest and recover.
Participate in sport with our kids. Make it family bonding time. Avoid the urge to lecture or train your kid, instead have fun as a family and optimise the parent-child quality time. By participating, we are also setting an example and demonstrating how to enjoy the sport.
Include sport as an activity for your child’s playdate or group gathering.
If your kid gets to participate in a sport with their best friend, it may well get them hooked together. It also creates collective memories for them, something fond to recall as they grow up together.