The biggest cause of worry for the parents of today is how to maintain a healthy lifestyle for their kids. With the increasing use of numerous gadgets in a household and escalating academic pressure, kids today are eventually bound to stay at home and become a couch potato. Will sports activities for kids change their patterns?
Contagious gadgets oriented lifestyle and routine can cause serious lifestyle illnesses even in kids. This is because they have a huge bank of physical energy that isn’t utilized daily. Hence, to change this sedentary lifestyle into a healthy one, it is important to introduce your kids to sports. There are enormous good sports activities for kids that can help you make your child healthier.
Top Five Good Sports Activities for Kids
In a country like India, where most of the population knows and loves playing cricket, teaching your kid how to play it comes naturally in almost every household. A child learns to hold a bat at the age of 2 years and gets excited at the throw of a ball. Learning cricket at an early age helps your child with better hand-eye coordination and teamwork.
For learning the basics of football, one doesn’t require specialized training. A child loves playing with a ball and kicking it into different directions makes him happy. This activity becomes the foundation of learning football for him. Playing football not only helps to gain foot dexterity but also improves balance, muscle strength, and cardiovascular sustainability.
In a list of sports activities for kids, cycling never loses its position. A toddler usually starts with a tricycle at the tender age of one and a half to two years. This is a good exercise for his legs. Cycling also helps him gain coordination between his hands and legs movement. Once your kid is 6 or 7 years old, gift him a bicycle. Cycling instills a sense of independence and freedom to your kids. They feel more confident and mature with this.
It is rightly said that one can never forget swimming in his entire life. It is a sport that stays with you as a life-long skill. Hence, it is a good idea to invest your money and your child’s time and energy in learning swimming. Not only is it a good physical burnout, but it also improves coordination for young kids. Moreover, nowadays, there are places where you can start swimming training even for your toddlers.
Slowly but steadily, basketball is gaining momentum and importance in India. The previous generation got to know about this sport only after a certain amount of exposure in school or college. However, kids today have nets installed in their gardens or balconies and know the basic game of basketball. Nevertheless, it remains to be a more common sport for teenage beginners. It is good to use their interest in this sport and encourage them by providing them with the required training to play basketball better.
When Should I Introduce my Child to Sports?
“The early the better” rule doesn’t apply in general in sports. A 4 years old toddler might not have the needed hand-eye coordination and quick decision-making ability that is required for playing basketball with a team. Similarly, it will be slightly difficult for a 15 years old child to start karate or swimming at that age. Therefore, the key to the correct age lies in age-appropriate learning of sports.
1-2 years old
Toddlers at this age do not understand anything except playing. This is the age when you, as parents, encourage them for play-based learning. You cannot teach them proper sports, instead, just motivate them to develop their physical abilities.
Allowing them for free play in playgrounds while keeping a watch on them will enhance their emotional, social, and mental development. Just make sure that the surface of the play area is safe for them. Thus, instead of a hard cemented surface, a grassy ground or a rubber playmat will keep them secure.
3-5 years old
Your child now can walk, run, jump, dance, and has better control over his hands and legs movement. However, he is yet not ready for any organized sports except swimming. Thus, encourage your ward to involve in sports activities for preschoolers that include playing with a ball, swinging, sliding, running, jumping, etc.
It is not very common that a kid expresses his interest in a particular sport at this age. However, if he does, you should persuade your kid to learn that sport more. Who knows, there is a hidden Sachin Tendulkar in your kid!
6-9 years old
At this age, your kid has better motor skills, physical strength, hand-eye coordination, balance, and vision. Thus, he can be introduced to some simpler sports that require less knowledge of rules and decision-making and needs more skill and physical capability. Therefore, your kid can easily grasp sports like cycling, skating, badminton, cricket, football, karate, etc.
At this age, your child also knows the importance and significance of teamwork. Hence, he can not only identify his meaning of existence in his team but can also contribute efficiently to the whole idea of playing the sport. Additionally, he can now better understand the group instructions as compared to his younger self.
10 years and above
By this age, your kid has almost fully grown and developed muscles, balance, coordination, and vision. He is now entirely equipped to learn some challenging sports like basketball, volleyball, hockey, etc.
However, as parents, your role is even more important here. You should remember not to be too pushy and adamant to make him learn the sports that you want him to excel in. Do not forget that being pushy will make your kid lose all the benefits of sports in child and youth development.
Being competitive is acceptable but do not cross that thin line between being competitive and over-competitive. This can make your child grow hatred towards sports. Moreover, he might also lose his confidence forever. Thus, it is necessary to understand your child’s interest and then encourage him positively in that sports by providing the correct type of training.
One essential thing to note is that when you introduce your kid to sports, you need to forego the guarantee of your kid’s safety. Unless you allow your kid to move out of their cocoons, they cannot practice sports freely. However, if you follow these basic guidelines of age-appropriate sports activities for kids, you can be sure that they are not over-burdening themselves physically, mentally, or emotionally.
The introduction of a sport earlier than the appropriate age might make your kid lose his confidence. Additionally, he can hurt himself more severely, if his age is less than the appropriate age of that sport. This is because your kid’s muscle strength might not be able to support the strenuous sport.
Four Ways to Motivate Your Child Towards Sports
Parents of our generation are much more concerned about everything that is going on in their kid’s life and how they can improve it. This is the reason why we get to hear a lot of parents ask how to get their toddlers interested in sports.
Well, it might sound surprising but the right age to grow interested in your kid in sports is toddlerhood. Please note that you can only make your kid interested in sports while he is a toddler, but cannot fully introduce sports to him yet.
Below are some ways to motivate your kid towards playing sports –
Play with your kid
As a toddler, your kid doesn’t know any sports. He might want to kick a cricket ball or want to hit a football with a bat. As long as your toddler is indulged in any such kind of physical activity, let him have fun in that. He will feel happier to play if his mom and dad accompany him in doing so.
Throw a ball, ask him to catch it, run with him, dance like crazy, or just pretend to ride his tricycle. Show him that playing sports is fun and he will be naturally attracted to playing sports.
Read, watch, and talk about sports
Kids understand better with images and motion pictures. Read to them books about sports; show them pictures and movies related to sports or sports personalities. Tell them about your favorite sport, how you started liking it, your team/s, your favorite part of the sport, its rules, etc.
Praise their efforts, not achievements
This goes for every age of your kid. When you praise your kid’s efforts, he will end up putting in more effort and eventually will get better in sports. Whether it is a toddler who just hit his first ball with a bat or a teenager who performed his best in the last tennis match; both of them deserve applause for their sincere efforts.
Let them decide
Never decide yourself as to which sport you want your kid to practice. Allow your child to explore himself and his interests. Let him decide whether he likes to be a part of a team or can perform better as an individual. Let your kid pick if he wants to throw a ball in a net with his hand, or with his leg or if he wants to hit it with a bat. Kids perform better in sports that they are interested in.
Three Most Important Benefits of Playing Sports
Increment in physical strength
Any sport or exercise involves a lot of physical exertion. Hence, playing sports keeps your child’s body healthy and increases its strength. It releases certain chemicals in the brain that help keep your kid happy and relaxed. Thus, kids who play sports in the earlier years of their lives are better capable of enduring stress in later years.
Growth in confidence
Small but frequent goal achievements help your kids keep up their spirits high. Seasonal goals, when accomplished bring a sense of pride and self-esteem to kids that helps in enhancing their confidence. Moreover, playing sports provides your child with the independence and capability of decision-making.
Additionally, your kid gradually learns to accept defeats and that these failures are just milestones to success. They do not let these breakdowns break their confidence and zeal to achieve.
People who play sports are highly disciplined and well organized. They understand the importance of time and practice. Hence, this self-restraint lifestyle can assist them a long way in their lives. If they want, they can achieve anything as they know how to get better by each day through disciplining their lives and ultimately attain their fullest potential.
How to Make Your Kid More Aggressive in Sports
Before understanding how you can make your child participate aggressively in sports activities for kids, answer the following two questions to yourself –
- Is your child interested in the sport?
- Do you have realistic expectations from your kid?
It is futile to push your child in a sport that he doesn’t like to play. Sometimes, there are kids who are rarely interested in sports but just because their parents pressurize them, they start playing forcefully.
This is a completely wrong approach. Before expecting your kid to start playing a sport aggressively, it is necessary that you motivate him towards sports in general. Moreover, you should let your kid explore himself and decide which sport/she would like to pursue.
Furthermore, your expectations of your child should be realistic. For example, you cannot expect a 12 years old child to understand each rule of football and apply all kinds of foot movements perfectly while playing.
To make your kids play aggressively in the sport of their choice, you can –
Facilitate him with a good coach
For learning a sport better, the role of a good coach is the most important. Find a good coach in your locality for your kid who can help him understand the sport as well as teach him how to play it effectively.
Talk about the sport
Every time your kid returns from a practice, ask him about it. Show you, child, that you are concerned and he has all your ears for anything that he wants to say. Many-a-times, kids do not really understand their role in the game. Moreover, a child who has recently started playing might not even talk much in front of his coach.
In such cases, your kid would need your support and guidance. Learn the basics of the sport yourself and tell them the same. Make them understand why they are an important asset for the team.
Celebrate small victories
Set small goals or milestones and celebrate once your kid achieves them. Even if it is his first white belt in Taekwondo or his first six in a cricket match, gift your child with a reward or a small celebration. Encourage them to achieve the next checkbox on the list continually.
Help them overcome the fear of failure
Sometimes, due to performance pressure, children are not able to perform well at a sport. This is the time when your role as a parent becomes crucial. Help them overcome the fear of failure. Tell them it is not bad to fail but not to perform at all with the fear of failing. Tell them it is alright to mess things up sometimes. However, it is important to learn from your mistakes and get better the next time.
Sports activities for kids are not only required to burn up the extra energy in them but also because a sportsperson is mentally very strong. A person who has endured numerous defeats and has still won innumerable matches has seen a lot. Additionally, a person who plays sports is a quick thinker and decision-maker.
The chemicals that are released in the brain of a sportsperson help him keep happy, relaxed, and stress-free. He is capable of handling any kind of pressure that comes his way. Also, kids who practice sports regularly are also better at focussing on academics.
Thus, sports activities for kids benefit them in diverse ways. Many researchers from around the globe even suggest that kids should play more than one sport at least until they are 15 years old for their holistic development. The important thing, however, to keep in mind is that it is essential to learn each sport correctly from an expert.