There are significant benefits of playing a sport for kids. Firstly, it’s fun! It’s also a chance to learn new skills and keep fit at the same time. And studies show that children who engage in sport are less likely to perform poorly in school, to become obese, and to turn to drugs and alcohol.
But while you may know all that, it can be hard to get your children to understand, and you might experience them being less enthusiastic or motivated than you want them to be.
So, what should you do? Should you push them? And how pushy is too pushy?
If you want some guidance, we’ve broken it down for you into three key categories: Supporting, Positive Pushing, and Negative Pushing. Take a look…
Supporting: Getting Them Started in A Positive Way
Through this stage of starting a new sport, as with any new experience, it can prompt a bit of apprehension. Even if they’re keen on the sport itself, they may well be shy or feel unsure. So be supportive – talk with them about what they’re looking forward to, but also about what’s bothering them. Have a chat about the benefits of just getting out and having a go. If they’re worried about skills or things they need to practice, help make that easy for them by offering to take them to the oval, court or sports center and practicing with them.
Pushing your child in their sport doesn’t have to be a bad thing; positive pushing can be beneficial. How much is appropriate will depend on their age and confidence levels, and will most likely be different for every child and every family. As with anything, it’s important to maintain open lines of communication with your kids so that you can tap into what exactly is bothering them and work out how to help them.
With that said, if it’s just that your child’s interest appears to be waning, then teaching them not to give up easily is a great life lesson. You could start by having a chat about commitment – to a team, a partner or a season. Give them an understanding that perseverance often leads to breakthroughs and great experiences.
Kids also need to learn that it’s okay to feel uncomfortable now and then and to take on new challenges. This is when parental nudges can be a positive way to move them through perceived hurdles. Make sure they know that, as with anything, the more they put in, the more they’ll get out of it.
Reinforce that you’re interested in their sport and think it’s worth pursuing. Show them it’s not a burden to you, and guide them towards thinking positively about the great opportunities they have to play. You could:
- Offer to help them practice. If they decline, just let them know you’re available when they want.
- Talk to them about the kinds of experiences you’ve had playing sport – the good things, but also the things you found challenging.
- Show your interest by going to games. This makes it easier to connect with what they’re experiencing too – you can talk about particular elements of the game, praise them for things you notice, and talk through any challenges with them.
Pushing your child to a stage where they feel unhappy in the sport they’re doing, or feel like they are being scrutinized and made to feel inadequate is not a helpful path to getting them to feel more positive about sport. Intense emotions can make things harder, so steer away from comparisons, shaming or nagging. Avoid bribery to – the sport itself should be a reward and bribery can diminish their understanding of its value.
Remember, whether you’re gently supporting or more actively pushing, it’s all about getting kids to have positive experiences around sports. If your child is having fun and enjoys playing without feeling too pressured, they’re more likely to want to keep playing and to develop their own motivation to succeed.
If you’re looking for fun ways to get your child involved in sports why not consider a Sydney sports camp or a sports camp in your local area.