As a mom of 4 boys, our family is involved in many team sports. While they may not always be the best player on the team, I always encourage and celebrate them for their efforts. As they have gotten older, I have noticed the team sports atmosphere has started to move away from having fun and focuses more on winning. I believe we should encourage kids to be active and enjoy sports no matter their playing level, especially at a younger age when they are forming lifelong habits.
As an ambassador of the Together Counts™ program, I’m a big fan of using sports to achieve energy balance. Here are ways that I encourage my kids to be their own “athlete” – whether as part of a team sport, or hiking or hula-hooping to get their dose of daily exercise:
Play YOUR best: My kids are competitive and love to win, but I emphasize if they play their hardest, it doesn’t matter who wins or loses. This is a tough sell as they get older, but it is important to teach them they can only control what THEY do, not what others do. Yes, we all love to win, but we cannot control what happens around us or how others play the game.
- Choice: Let your kids pick what sports they want to play. Just because you loved football in high school does not mean your child will love it as well. My oldest begged me to try hockey and I reluctantly agreed. He discovered he wasn’t a fan of falling on hard ice and decided he preferred to play basketball instead.
- Encourage: Regardless of your child’s skill level, celebrate their efforts. Use encouraging phrases such “I love to come watch you play and see you block those kicks!” Make it a family event and have siblings cheer as well. Even if he/she is not the team star, he will feel like he is because his family is there to celebrate him.
- Participate: Get out there and play the game with your kids. If your schedule permits, sign up to help coach the team. Show your kids that you might not be great at something, but you are willing to try.
How do you encourage your kids to be an athlete?
Lisa is a former personal trainer who now tries to maintain fitness (and sanity) while raising 4 little boys. She blogs about health and fitness for busy parents over on Workout Mommy.