The Triple P Team talks sportsmanship, competition, and selecting the right sport for your child.
In Lane County, spring sports are in full swing. Soccer, rugby, lacrosse, basketball, baseball, T-ball – everything is gearing up for a fun experience for kids and families. Sports play an important role in many children’s lives and provide them with a wealth of opportunities. Along with fitness and physical health, sports have strong ties to mental and social health and success in school. Here’s how to get the most out of your child’s sports experience and help promote a lifelong pursuit of physical activity.
Developing an interest
Kids need encouragement and a foundation of confidence to play most sports. Start early to develop basic skills like catching and kicking balls, hopping, skipping and jumping.
- Go for walks in your neighborhood and balance on the lines of the sidewalk like a balance beam.
- Play hopscotch at the park.
- Play catch with different kinds of objects – balls, paper airplanes, discs like Frisbee’s or balloons.
- Make it fun – notice and praise their successes and progress.
Making the choice – what sport should your child play?
In Lane County, there are lots of choices that are connected with nonprofit organizations like Kidsports, YMCA, South Valley Athletics and more.
- Look for guidelines that promote playing and participation for all kids. Playing is more important than winning.
- Encourage your child’s interest in joining a team to be with friends or participating in a sport, even if it’s a sport you are not particularly interested in. Follow your child’s interest – they will be more committed. Helping kids make choices for themselves will help them become better decision makers and reduce arguments and power struggles later on.
- Talk through the sports they may be interested in – how the game is played, what kind of equipment is needed and costs. Unless you feel the sport is too expensive or dangerous for your child, support your child’s choices.
- It’s OK if they want to try lots of sports! Interested in soccer in the spring and softball in the summer? Let them try out their abilities in different ways.
Success in youth sports should be tied to having fun and getting to play. While mastery of the game is a part of the fun, most kids won’t grow up to be a sports star and the lessons of losing are as important as those of winning. Put competition aside for enjoyment of the game. Here are some pointers for doing so.
- Encourage your child to attend all practices and games. Help your child arrive on time and stay for the full length of the practice or game. Kids get the full benefit of their experience by showing up!
- Support your child’s coach!
- Talk to your child about good sporting behavior. Being a part of the team, paying attention to the coaches and doing their best gives them life skills they can apply to other areas of their lives.
- Model good sporting behavior yourself. Say something positive about your child’s actions as well as the coach, the rest of the team and even the opponents. Note how hard everyone is trying and build your child’s confidence.
- Keep the negative feedback for the coach to give. Your best role is to be a supporter and fan of your child’s accomplishments.
Get the full article at lanekids.org.
This article is brought to you by Parenting Now! Parenting Educators and authors Amanda Bedortha, Claire Davis, and Lynne Swartz and consultant Jay Thompson (andupdatemywebsite.com).
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