With so many kids being overweight these days, and many spending too many hours staring at screens rather than being active, parents are increasingly focused on how they can get their children to play sports and be fit and healthy.
If you have a naturally athletic youngster in your household, though, they might already spend plenty of time exercising. In this case, your concern might be more about how to encourage your child to athletic greatness, without putting too much pressure on them. It’s a fine line to tread, but there are some strategies you can follow to achieve the best possible balance.
Encourage Kids to Try Numerous Sports
You might think that for a child to get to the top of the field in a sport that they need to have a single-minded focus on the activity, but this isn’t necessarily the case. While kids who excel at a particular exercise type will likely find it’s their favorite and will want to practice it often, it’s also wise for youngsters to mix things up.
Diversifying with training builds new skills and fitness levels, and in turn, tends to give children a higher overall ability. Plus, experimentation also means kids aren’t as likely to tire of a sport by overdosing on it. Let your child test out whichever kinds of other activities they’re interested in, whether at school, through local clubs, or by way of youth sports performance training during vacation periods.
Recommend Occasional Breaks
Many promising young athletes burn out before they’ve had a real chance to become great because they’re pushed too hard. This pressure can come from themselves, from parents or siblings, from coaches and trainers, from teammates, or other avenues.
Protect your child from this kind of situation by encouraging them to take occasional breaks. This doesn’t mean they have to stop exercising altogether, but give them periods where they’re not training multiple times per week for their preferred sport or focusing day and night on which new goal to try to achieve next. Breaks help kids to stay healthy mentally and emotionally, and also reduce the risk of a love of a sport turning into hatred.
Focus on Positive Feedback
Parents who want to spur their child on to athletic greatness typically give their kids lots of constructive criticism about how they can improve ASAP. However, as a parent, keep in mind that this isn’t actually your job; it’s the coach or trainer’s role.
Be wary of criticizing and critiquing your youngster’s performance too much, as this can make them feel as if they’re not enough “as is.” Instead, provide warranted positive feedback and leave the improvement suggestions up to a third party. Athletic children are usually adept enough that you shouldn’t struggle to find things to compliment them on. Being positive in this way will help to encourage your child to stick with their sporting pursuits.
Help Kids to Self-Evaluate
Another tip to boost your child’s athletic prowess is to help them learn how to self-evaluate their own performance. This skill is crucial in life in general, but in sports, people of all ages must get good at noticing what they did well plus things they can improve on. Teach your children some questions they can ask themselves to discover what they need to work on as their athletic career goes on.
Also, support your youngster to set their own goals and consider ways to achieve them. Taking this responsibility makes kids more likely to be able to motivate themselves. Doing this is crucial since you can’t be forever hounding them to get up early for a practice session or reminding them of their next training time. The sooner children learn to self-motivate, the better it will be for their long-term success.
Parents should deemphasize outcomes when talking with their children about their sports activities, too. While it’s natural to chat about hopes for wins in games, achieving personal bests, or making it onto top teams, etc., don’t let your competitive nature and ego get in the way and create a constant focus on achieving set outcomes.
It’s healthier for children to know you place more importance on working hard, trying to the best of their abilities, and having fun. Make it clear to your kids that you love them no matter how they perform on a given day or how many medals or trophies they collect.
Also, ensure your child has other interests and focuses outside of sports. When they can put some time and effort into other pursuits, they’ll not only blow off some steam but also be less likely to obsess over achieving at all costs.
Having a naturally athletic child in your family is often exciting and pride-inducing, which is natural. However, take care to guide your youngster through sporting pathways with care so that they stay balanced, happy, and connected.