Sports are a really great way to not only get your kids to exercise on a regular basis, but also to foster a sense of good sportsmanship, of learning how to win graciously and accept defeat with dignity, as well as learn what it means to be accountable when there’s a team counting on you to show up and give it your all.
But, when parents get involved, it can be hard to draw the line between valuable support system and those parents who let their own competitive spirit stand in the way of the fun of the game. Here are some tips to encourage your kid, and supporting their pursuits without making them feel pressured.
Help Kids Pick a Sport Suited Right for Them
While it may be tempting to sign your kid up for football or soccer because you loved playing those sports as a kid, talk to your child about which sports interest them, and fit with their schedule. If that’s swimming, baseball, track and field, whatever — all sports are a great way to improve your kid’s physical fitness and development.
Give them the Tools Needed to Succeed
Make sure you provide you kids with the equipment they need — i.e. balls, cleats, uniforms and practice gear to ensure they are able to participate in the sport safely and effectively.
Aside from the physical equipment, one of the best ways for kids to get better at sports and develop a healthy competitive spirit is to — well — play with other kids! Your child gets better by playing with kids of similar abilities, they’ll learn together and challenge each other along the way.
Oh, and if you want to get a sense of what the weather’s like ahead of a big game or practice, check out this weather app so you’ll know what gear to bring rain or shine.
Drive Kids to Practice and Games
Sometimes support comes in the form of just showing up. Drive kids to games and practices, if your schedule allows. Ask kids if they’d like you to stay, and give them some space if they decline. Some kids may have performance anxiety and may feel stressed if you’re watching.
Boost Confidence — And Show Them What Healthy Competition is All About
Boosting confidence isn’t necessarily just telling kids their good at something when they maybe don’t have star potential. Teaching kids that loss doesn’t equate to failure and winning isn’t everything is key in helping your child cope with the ups and downs they’ll experience throughout their lives.
Okay, if you actually are the coach, you can sit this one out, but in all other cases, you are the parent, not the coach. Know your place and avoid telling your child, or other children, they lost due to a technical error or by confronting the actual coach about which kids play, on so on. Your job is to be a fan and a supporter, helping kids through defeat and celebrating wins.