When you can tell that your child has a passion for a certain sport or activity, it can be a great feeling. You can see their passion brimming over for soccer or a spark of interest in dance and you start to feel equally enthusiastic about it too. Oftentimes, however, children suddenly lose interest in what previously made them so happy. In these instances, it can feel like you did something wrong.
The truth is that a child’s interest can vary wildly as they test things out to find their true passions. However, there are some things you can do to help nurture their passion and help them fall in love with an activity even more. This is especially true for sports. Let’s take a look at a few ways you can help effectively nurture your child’s love for sports.
Play For Fun
Playfulness is at the core of being a child. The most likely reason why your child is showing interest in a sport is that they find the “play” aspect of it fun. As they get into leagues, teams, or groups, make sure the fun of the sport remains the heart of it. Unstructured playtime, which is when kids decide what they want to do and make their own rules to play with friends, helps kids learn important social skills. They’ll need these skills when they become adults in order to cooperate and get along with other people.
It’s also important to play for fun with your child. If you show your child that you genuinely enjoy playing, they might mimic your true joy. It will be fun for you and you’ll be able to create memories with your little one. You’ll also benefit from the physical activity because when adults do more than seven hours of physical activity every week, they have a longer life expectancy. When you’re playing with your child, just be careful to not turn it into a coaching session. Just have fun!
Let Them Try a Different Sport
The reason many kids stop playing a sport is that they realize that they like another one better. If you don’t let your child switch sports because you want them to love the first one they did, you may be stifling their true passions and they’ll quit physical activities altogether.
Ask your child what sport they want to play. They’ve probably developed some preferences over the years, even if you don’t realize it. If they suddenly tell you that they want to switch from soccer to baseball, ask why and then go with it. Buy them baseballs and shaved bats and start learning everything about baseball you can. They might drop baseball like they did soccer, but they’ll eventually decide on what they really like and will appreciate that you gave them the flexibility to find it.
Don’t Go Overboard
If you’re among the many adults who love sports, you may start to overdo it with your child’s sport. Some parents become intensely focused on one sport they want their child to excel in and others enroll their child in too many activities at once. Both approaches can backfire. The activities can start to feel like a full-time job rather than something they want to spend their free time doing. That’s when a love for a sport starts to dissipate.
Remember to check yourself if you know that you have a tendency to go overboard with sports. Make sure that you aren’t overscheduling your child with practices and games. You also need to give them plenty of free time to follow other interests outside of sports. You may want to put your community association assessments to good use, which total about $88 billion in the United States, by going to the communal basketball court to get a quick practice in, but your child may want to spend time reading in their bedroom. Let them enjoy their book and know that you can make use of the basketball court some other time when your child is interested in playing. By backing off a little, you may see that your child starts to show interest in the sport again.
Encouraging a love for sports in your child is a tricky balance. You want to do enough to spark their love for it, but you don’t want to do so much that you’ll end up smothering the flame. As your child develops an interest in a sport, remember that it is okay if they are not passionate about it in the end. What matters is that you gave them the agency to start the sport and to duck out of it and that you supported them the whole way through.