Thomas Jefferson famously stated that a person of any age should devote at least two hours per day to exercise, as “a strong body makes the mind strong.” This is even truer when it comes to children — not only do children’s sports keep young bodies strong, but they also help growing minds.
Making sure your child naturally incorporates exercise into their life is a mixture of several things: leading by example, doing sports together, and playing with friends. Let’s look at each one individually.
1.Leading by Example
Remember that kids are sponges who absorb their understanding of life by watching their parents. This can be both a blessing and a curse — who hasn’t heard the “do as I say, not as I do” line before? If you drive like a maniac or leave the kitchen messy, chances are high that you’ll find your child emulating the behavior later on.
Similarly, if your child sees you lazing on the couch watching TV all day, then they will have little reason to believe that exercise is truly an important part of life. Start proving the value of sports by participating in them yourself.
There are so many ways to demonstrate this relationship with sports, and most of them will benefit you as much as your child. Join an after-work kickball team. Go for runs. Join the local gym. Maybe even pull out the old tennis racket or ice skates. There are sports like soccer, ultimate frisbee, basketball, baseball, softball and many more that offer pick-up games for those who want some casual sports involvement.
2.Doing Sports Together
A child’s tendency to associate sports with fun starts with you, the parent. Because a child forms their idea of normalcy by observing your behaviors, impart the importance of sports on them by doing fun athletic activities together.
Teach your kid to ride a bike, and then take it a step further by going on bike rides together. This can be as simple as a ride down the street or as adventurous as zipping through the woods on mountain bikes. Get a basketball hoop and teach them the basics of dribbling and shooting. If you prefer to go to the gym, take your child with you and find fun activities for them to participate in.
It is normal to introduce your kids to the sports you enjoy most yourself. However, as time goes on, pay close attention to your child and observe whether they seem to be having fun. It is entirely possible that your favorite sport won’t interest them at all, and that is completely fine — just be ready to accept it and move onto another option. Try introducing them to many different sports and see if they are naturally inclined toward one.
3.Playing with Friends
Kids love playing games with each other, and having a group of friends over to play is a wonderful way to nurture love for a sport.
Think of a way you can contribute to making your house a good site for an activity your child enjoys. Is there a field nearby for soccer? Do you have a big tree in the yard that might mount a big swing? Do you own woods where you could build trails? Is your driveway big enough for a basketball hoop, either in the ground or on the side of your house?
When your house is a meeting place for your child and their friends, it makes playing sports that much more special and memorable.
The more good memories associated with a sport, the more likely your kid will want to join in for fun someday. So put down your phone or tablet and go out for fun with your child!