Your child and sports

The key to find­ing a sport your child en­joys is to take his cue.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - PARENTING - By JACK PERCONTE

FIND­ING a sport that your child en­joys may be easy for a few par­ents be­cause some kids seem to take to a sport or many sports at a young age. For many par­ents how­ever, the task of find­ing a sport their child en­joys proves more dif­fi­cult. Find­ing the right sport for their kids can be an im­por­tant step in their child’s devel­op­ment of self­es­teem, es­pe­cially for the many par­ents who be­lieve that youth sports are a great way for kids to learn life lessons.

Al­most al­ways, par­ents have a sport or two that they en­joy the most. This is nat­u­rally the sport that their kids will first be in­flu­enced by. Show­ing en­thu­si­asm for a sport and hav­ing kids par­tic­i­pate and watch their par­ents’ pre­ferred sports is the first path to find­ing a sport that your child en­joys. How­ever, this does not guar­an­tee that your child will nec­es­sar­ily en­joy the same sports. I be­lieve kids get the most en­joy­ment out of ac­tiv­i­ties that they are most suc­cess­ful at, so find­ing the sport that they seem to have some suc­cess with is maybe the most im­por­tant as­pect in this search. Hav­ing said that, the fol­low­ing are things that par­ents should do to help find a sport their child en­joys:

1. Play dif­fer­ent sports around the house with kids at a young age. Some­times it is ap­par­ent from their ac­tions which sport they may like in the fu­ture. Throw a ball down on the ground and see what a child does with it. Some will pick it up and throw it and oth­ers will be­gin kick­ing it. This may give par­ents an in­di­ca­tion of what sport the child may lean to­wards.

2. Recog­nise their child’s ac­tiv­ity level at a young age – ag­gres­sive and high-en­ergy kids may grav­i­tate to­wards high-in­ten­sity sports like foot­ball, hockey and soc­cer. On the other hand, less ag­gres­sive and laid-back type kids may be bet­ter suited for base­ball or golf.

3. Plan on of­fer­ing kids a wide va­ri­ety of sports at a young age. Many par­ents only sign their kids up for the sports they en­joy and do not of­fer enough va­ri­ety to their kids. Of­ten, kids are not sure which sport they en­joy un­til they are a bit older (at least 10 years old). Of course, it is never good to

High-en­ergy kids may grav­i­tate to­wards high-in­ten­sity sports like foot­ball, over-sport kids ei­ther, i.e. by hav­ing them play too many sports in a year. Par­ents should re­alise that there is al­ways the next year to try dif­fer­ent ac­tiv­i­ties.

4. An­a­lyse your child’s phys­i­cal traits, which are most of­ten re­lated to their par­ents’ phys­i­cal traits. As men­tioned, kids will en­joy the sport that they are most suc­cess­ful at; so, hav­ing them try sports where they have the best chance of suc­ceed­ing may help find a sport they will en­joy. For ex­am­ple, kids who are ob­vi­ously go­ing to be big or tall may have their best op­por­tu­nity play­ing foot­ball and bas­ket­ball. Kids that are small and quick may be more suited for speed sports. Fur­ther­more, kids who have ob­vi­ous strong throw­ing arms may like base­ball or ten­nis. Of course, there are of­ten dif­fer­ent sized play­ers needed for dif­fer­ent po­si­tions for the same sport so size is not al­ways a de­ter­min­ing fac­tor for choos­ing a sport that kids may like.

5. Ob­serve in­tently a child’s de­meanour be­fore, dur­ing and af­ter com­pe­ti­tion and prac­tice. Most kids en­joy games but have no in­ter­est in prac­tis­ing a sport. Kids who have no in­ter­est in prac­tis­ing a par­tic­u­lar sport gen­er­ally do no re­ally en­joy it and that may be an in­di­ca­tor that they should move to an­other ac­tiv­ity. Par­ents can usu­ally tell how much fun kids are hav­ing by the way they re­act af­ter prac­tice and games.

A note of cau­tion, though. When kids act like they don’t care how they played, it is gen­er­ally a sign that they don’t like a sport that much. When they care, they are more likely to get up­set when they do not do well. There­fore, par­ents should not al­ways in­ter­pret an up­set child as one who does not en­joy a sport.

6. An­a­lyse the child’s coach. Coaches, who are ill pre­pared for coach­ing youth or a par­tic­u­lar sport, may be zap­ping the fun out of the sport. Find­ing a bet­ter coach the fol­low­ing sea­son can make all the dif­fer­ence in find­ing a sport your child en­joys. Par­ents should never un­der­es­ti­mate the dif­fer­ence a good coach can make for youth ath­letes.

7. Ob­serve which sport your child can sit and watch on TV or in per­son. If there is no at­ten­tion span at all for a par­tic­u­lar sport when watch­ing, there is a good chance the child will not en­joy play­ing it.

8. Do not let kids spe­cialise in one sport at too young of an age, un­less it is the only sport that a child truly wants to play. Of­ten, kids are al­lowed or forced into spe­cial­is­ing in one par­tic­u­lar sport at an early age only to burn out and re­gret not hav­ing an­other sport to fall back on at a later age.

Fi­nally, it is im­por­tant that par­ents have an open mind with their kids, and are not the ones who de­cide which sport their child en­joys. It is com­mon for par­ents to make the de­ci­sion for their kids by keep­ing them in­volved in a sport that the par­ents wants them to play when their kids are not re­ally that in­ter­ested in that sport. Years may be wasted with this type of parental be­hav­iour, or even worse, never re­ally find­ing out which sport your child en­joys the most. – McClatchy-Tribune In­for­ma­tion Ser­vices

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