You sign them up and then what?


Children love sports. Until you enroll them in a class or put them on a team. Then, class by class, practice by practice, the excitement starts fading away. Or even worse, they never really stopped clinging to you on the bench. What’s going on? Your son loves playing catch with his dad, your daughter always grooves to the music. It was no brainer they should enjoy mastering the sports. You signed them up in good faith and  for their benefit. And now, not only do you have to drive them from one practice to another, but the whole thing drives you crazy!

It does sound familiar, doesn’t it? When our son turned three and expressed his interest in kicking the soccer ball with his dad, we signed him up for classes. A major mistake. He had fun watching other children and drinking “power water” during the water break, but that was more or less the extent of his engagement. The whole deal ended up very emotional. To my husband. He basically threw away our son’s cleats. And our son? He was happy to be left alone. Go figure!

The more I’ve been thinking about it, the more I start seeing where we, parents, tend to go wrong on the issue.

1. There is a big difference between having fun with sports and doing a sport.

Every child loves running around, but will they commit to practicing running every day with a timer? Most boys love playing catch with their dads. It’s their bonding time. But being a part of a baseball team with a strict coach is another story. Doing  a sport means commitment and structure. One has to be ready for it. The very excitement is not a sufficient motivation. Sometimes the motivation grows with age. It’s worth waiting a bit instead of discouraging our children from doing a sport too early.

2. Liking for sports is not genetic

Sometimes we think that our sport dreams are our children’s sports dreams. And then we get surprised that we love biking and our child wants to be a basketball star. It’s better for everyone if we get some reality check.

3. Interest in sports is related to one’s personality, not a trend

All of your child’s friends are on a baseball team and he or she wants to do swimming. You think team sports are good for a child, but you forget that your child is more of an individualist. Are you planning to change his or her personality? In that case, good luck!

4. Sport is not a ticket to college

Doing a sport is about loving it. It can become competitive, if your child chooses to advance in it or become a professional. However, you are not teaching your child to be a good sport if you use the sport as a tool to get your child through the college door.

 And last but not least:

5. Doing sports is a privilege not an obligation

We think that children have to do sports.  We turn into tiger moms and make sure that they don’t slack and don’t skip their practices. I don’t think it works. I believe that children have to be active. It’s being active that is good for them. However, I deem organized sports as a great perk and privilege. My son can profit from it if he truly commits. If he doesn’t, there is always a park and many ways to keep him fit and healthy.

So far so good, though. He’s just gotten his orange belt in TaeKwonDo and he is as proud and driven as he can be.

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