Photo by Flickr user VensPaperie
These days, it can be pretty tough to get kids to do something as simple and engaging as playing kids sport.
Though it seems slightly crazy, throwing a ball around or running around with friends will often take second place to video games, TV, cell phones, and the internet.
Many parents despair at the time their kids spend in front of a screen when they themselves spent their childhoods playing outside with nothing but nature and friends for amusement (and maybe a ball and some roller-skates if they were lucky). And the frightening statistics about obesity levels don’t help.
Getting kids excited about sports so they voluntarily switch off the TV can be tough, but it’s a challenge we all need to face up to. The National Center for Health Statistics has found that 30 percent of American adults are already obese (some 60 million people) and no one wants that for their child.
The effect of exercise on overall health is a pretty compelling case for getting your children into kids sports. And getting your kids excited about sports now is an excellent groundwork for a healthy and happy future. But it’s not always easy going.
Here are 5 tips to get reluctant kids away from their LCD screens and excited about kids sports.
1. Make it Fun
Photo by Flickr user KrissZPhotography
Both kids and adults will respond far less positively to any activity that feels like a chore, so making exercise fun is a great way to get kids excited about it.
Classes like Zumba, which incorporates dance moves into exercise, are ideal for making the experience one they will want to repeat, as well as developing a sense of rhythm and physical confidence.
2. Join in Too
Photo by Flickr user xcode
This doesn’t mean that you need to start stepping in for your kid at sports games and classes, criticizing them when they don’t kick high enough, or shouting at them from the sidelines!
Instead, take a healthy interest in the sports your child is interested in – play tennis with them to help work on eye to hand coordination or join a combined kids and adults softball team. Play together for some healthy bonding time, like a family basketball game, once a week.
The exercise will be good for everyone and it’s one of the few times you can bond without other distractions.
3. Let Your Child Decide
Photo by Flickr user micmol
You may love horseback riding, but does he?
There’s probably nothing less motivating for a kid – particularly those of a certain age – than being told that they have to do a certain sport (or a certain anything).
Whether it’s because it’s a sport you wished you had excelled at as a child, or one you think they have talent for, forcing kids to do something they clearly don’t want to do is rarely constructive.
That’s not to say: let off the hook. Make it clear that some sort of sport is compulsory, but let them choose the one that is right for them.
4. Set an Example
Photo by Flickr user CaptQuirk
You may run in to problems with getting your kids to exercise if you never do any yourself.
Why should they get up off the couch if you never do?
The best way to lead is from the front, so start setting your own exercise goals. Share your achievements and the positive effects sports and exercise have on your life with the rest of your family.
5. Encourage Them
Photo by Flickr user PanARMENIAN_Photo
Although you don’t have to be a hard-as-nails soccer mom or dad, pushing your child to be better than everyone else, a measure of encouragement goes a long way when it comes to getting kids into sports.
Help them set their own goals, whether it’s being good enough to join a team, or learning a new skill. Willingly shuttle them around to practices and matches.
A positive attitude to your kid’s interest in sport will make them want to take it further.
Guest blogger Amy Sawyer writes for Go Mammoth sports leagues.