Regular exercise can help children develop healthy habits and learn skills like teamwork and perseverance. If your child shows an interest in athletics, you might want to consider having them join a team or take lessons. It’s important to choose age-appropriate activities and to make sure the environment is supportive and encouraging.
How to Choose the Right Sport
If you have children in preschool, they don’t have the coordination necessary for most organized team sports. Consider activities such as running, throwing and catching a ball, and swimming to prepare your child for more challenging activities in a few years.
For children in elementary school, this is a good time to start thinking about team sports. T-ball, soccer, tennis and gymnastics are some sports that are age appropriate.
If your child is in middle school and is interested, you can consider sports that require more coordination and stamina. Basketball, volleyball, hockey and football can be good choices, provided your child is ready physically and mentally.
Meet the Coach
Before you allow your child to join an athletic team, talk to the coach. Discuss your child’s background and skill level. Ask about the coach’s training strategy, how they motivate children, and whether all children are allowed to compete. Ask what types of safety equipment are used to prevent injuries.
Listen to Your Child
Don’t pressure your child into participating in a sport that they don’t enjoy. You can encourage your child to try different activities, but it’s best to let them decide which sport is the best fit. If your children don’t like a sport now, they may become interested in a year or two if you allow it to be their decision.
Show your child that you support their choice to participate in a sport. Watch practices and games when your schedule allows. If you can’t make it in person, ask how the game went and how your child and the team are doing overall. Celebrate your child’s successes and help them overcome challenges.
Path to Lifelong Health
Exercise is essential for good health, and habits that are started early can last a lifetime. Encourage your child to participate in age-appropriate physical activities. Be supportive and encouraging, but allow your child to make decisions and figure out what they enjoy. If your children are having fun, they are likely to stick with it.