By Dr. William Carroll, Charleston Bone and Joint
Many parents enroll their children in recreational sports when they are old enough to play. Not only do they help the development of agility, provide exercise and teach teamwork, children also learn personal responsibility. Selecting the sport that’s right for your child however can be a challenge.
Here are a few tips on how to make the best decision for you and your family.
Get a physical. Before starting any type of physical activity or sport, take your child in for a check-up to be sure they are healthy enough and cleared to participate. Children can be injured because they aren’t quite ready or have an unknown ailment.
Expose your child to a variety of sports. Talk with them about what they like and dislike about each sport, then try a few of the ones that made the cut. Signs of enthusiasm will help you both decide which one is best.
Start small. If your child isn’t usually active or is overweight, make the transition to sports gradually. Try a skateboard, bicycle, skates or trampoline. Video games and books are fun, but sedentary lifestyles in children can be harmful to their health.
Consider less popular sports. A traditional sport like football may be the right fit but when it’s not, try martial arts, gymnastics, cross country, golf, dance or fencing. All of these are sports and still teach important skills. Deciding between team sports versus individual sports is also something to think about.
Practice one-on-one. Starting a new sport without knowledge or skills can be daunting. Spend time with your child and teach them the fundamentals – if you don’t know the sport, learn them together. It’s great for bonding and keeps you involved in their activity. My dad spent hours with me playing catch in the backyard.
Most importantly, don’t put your own interests on your child. Participating in a sport is more important than which sport they select. The activity should be enjoyable and healthy – pushing your child into one sport or another can harbor resentment and possibly cause him or her to miss out on all the benefits that being active can provide.
It may take some time to find the right fit, but patience is indeed a virtue. Have fun with the process and play safe!
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