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How to encourage children's sporting abilities - without pressure

Posted by TP Toys on 1st October 2014

How to encourage children's sporting abilities - without pressure

Being active through sport is beneficial for young and old alike, but often, a passion for sports is fostered at an early age. Sport is a fun way for children to develop skills like coordination, while also burning off some energy and promoting a healthy lifestyle.

It's natural for youngsters to want to use up their energy trying new, fun activities; investing in some sports equipment designed especially for children can keep little ones busy and also identify any special skills they may have. As they get older, you might want to indulge their passion with regular sports lessons where they can develop their abilities further - in the meantime, focus on keeping sport fun by avoiding pressure. Read our top tips for fostering a love of sport among your offspring. 

Prioritise participation

The saying goes: it's not the winning that matters but the taking part, and this is a valuable lesson to impart when introducing kids to sport. Helping youngsters understand that participation can be fun regardless of the results is the best way to ensure that sport is enjoyable, even if they don't always win. It's easy for competitiveness to sneak in when playing sports but reining it in can remove stress from the situation, making sport a fun learning experience for children.

Keep your cool

Teaching little ones to play sports can be a testing and sometimes frustrating process, but remaining calm and cool-headed can make all the difference to how your child feels about playing sport in the future. Resisting the temptation to shout or criticise youngsters can help them feel happy rather than anxious or stressed. Encourage them to try again if they're struggling with something and use positive reinforcement to identify what they're doing right, rather than focusing on what might be going wrong.

Know when to stop

Not all children take an interest in sport at the same age, and some kids enjoy certain activities more than others; with this in mind, avoid forcing youngsters into a sport they don't like, or that they're not ready for. Sometimes parents can push their own ideas on to their kids, often inadvertently, but children need to develop at their own pace. Kids will figure out their own likes and dislikes when introduced to different sports, so be child-led when selecting sports for them to focus on.

Slow and steady

Practice makes perfect and this is often the case when it comes to sport, but introducing kids to new activities slowly can be just what they need for their interest to grow. Children can become bored or fed up quickly when the novelty has worn off, so don't feel the need to overdo it by pushing too much. If your child is constantly asking to play a certain sport, why not set aside some specific time during the week when they get to play to their heart's content? A regular weekly slot can be more special than performing the same sport every day, giving youngsters something to look forward to each week.

Get involved

For a child's love of sport to grow, they need the support of their parents to kindle their passion. You can show your support and encourage your little one in the sport of their choice in practical ways - such as by taking them to regular sessions and having their kit and snacks ready - and also through words and conversation. Asking how practice has gone, cheering on in the crowd and familiarising yourself with the rules of the game can all help you get more involved and support your child as they progress.

Do away with tradition

Sport has traditionally been taught with a focus on developing and honing technique, but doing away with tradition and making sport more about the fun of the game can boost enjoyment levels. Facilitating sport rather than directing it can be useful in letting children learn how to play games and develop their own strategies, working out how to play as a team and seeing what each person is good at. Playing to everyone's strengths ensures each child feels valued and has fun, as opposed to piling on pressure to achieve perfection in a specific technique.