Encourage children to love team sports in ways that complement their individual personalities to ensure that they will stay active. In the end, whatâ??s important is that they get enough exercise. Team sports or not, they need to move in order to stay healthy.
One of the main stressors in my otherwise pleasant childhood was team sports and competition. I can remember hiding notes from school about sports day, when we would have to form teams to try and win silly competitions like the three-legged race.
I just wasn’t the type of kid who enjoyed the thrill of competition. I didn’t like being on a team because I worried too much about letting others down.
Growing up I found different ways to compete. I took solace in long-distance running and even found the courage one year to join the cross-country team. I did well, but didn’t join again because the stress of competing took away the thrill of the run for me. I took enjoyment in playing tennis with a brick wall, beating my record at long jump, and cycling until my legs turned to jelly. I’ve even trained for a half-marathon, feeling great satisfaction when running that distance became easy for me.
One Sport, Two Ways
I now have two children. Lauren, age nine, is competitive, outgoing, and ready to try anything. She loves team sports and isn’t afraid to put herself out there. She doesn’t worry about being the best–or the worst–on the team. She just wants to play. Andrew, age six, is just like me. He shies away from competition that puts him in the spotlight, yet he loves being active. He will try anything as long as it is on his own terms. As a parent I have tried to recognize what my children want before I encourage or discourage them to take part in team sports.
Lauren is lucky because she will try anything once. She enjoys the competitive aspect of a team, thrives on being part of a group, and has no problem conforming to group dynamics. Through group activities, she’s learned a great deal about herself and about working with others. She’s learned to follow directions, to lead, and to follow. She has learned to be a good sport–she wins well and loses even better. She has learned that just playing the game is what really matters.
With Andrew, it’s a bit different. He finds it difficult to try something he does not fully understand. Andrew finds team sports stressful, because in most of them, kids learn as they play. He worries about being unsure of the sport’s rules, having others count on him, possibly being the worst player, and other kids making fun of him. I found solutions that have helped Andrew with his anxieties and that might help other children as well.
As long as I encourage each of my children to love team sports in ways that complement their individual personalities, they will stay active. In the end, what’s important is that Lauren and Andrew get enough exercise. Team sports or not, they need to move in order to stay healthy. My job is to find the right activity for each of them and let them soar from there.
Three Roadblocks and Their Solutions
|1. Some kids take losing personally.||Encourage them to use the loss as motivation to win the next game.|
|2. Other kids are unsure about the game’s rules.||Borrow books from the library and read up on the rules before encouraging your kids to sign up for a sport.|
|3. Yet other kids have no experience playing the game.||Gather family members for a team game to give kids the experience of being in a group, which helps them prepare for joining an official team.|