While it is important that children have their own interests and that you help them foster them (while showing an interest in them for their sake), there is something quite special to developing a bond over an interest that you mutually share out of your own independent interests. If you want your child to have your love of sports and to develop a bond over it, there are a variety of ways you can help nurture them in that direction. Here, we’re going to look at a few.
While looking at the tips below, it’s important to remember that the personality and inclinations of your child matter just as much as anything else. Not everything is going to work the same for everyone.
Play it for fun
If you want your child to get into playing a sport, then you should be sure to encourage them to explore it at their own pace, not to force them to play it for any sort of competitive reason or try and get them to play it to get better at it. Simply put, if you put too much pressure on them too early, they’re going to eventually balk against it and are more likely to quit than anything. If your child shows a natural aptitude for athletics, it’s only natural to want to encourage them to pursue it, but trying to force it is only going to work against the very same desire.
Do sports together rather than expecting them to do it
If you’re trying to get your kid into sports because you want to build a bond with them around that shared interest, then you should make sure that you’re not simply pushing them to get into it and then vicariously enjoying those sports through them. If you want your child to associate sports with fun, then it’s important that you’re directly involved with it and actively making it more fun for them. For instance, get them more used to physical activity at first by going on bike rides with them after you teach them how to ride, or practice basketball with them by getting a hoop to play with in your backyard. That way, when they start to get to the age where they can explore their own interest, they already associate sports with fun.
Get them into the trivia side
There is a common misconception that it’s only the most physically apt and athletic guys that love sports, but we know that’s not true. There are guys who are into sports because they compete or have competed, there are those who love to support the home team, and there are those who love to get into the details of it, to uncover all of the stats and learn about everything they can. Even if a kid isn’t a natural athlete, he can develop a true and passionate interest in sports. Getting into the trivia side of sports with them, such as discovering the best coaches, looking at stats of different players, and maybe even involving them in your fantasy league, can develop an interest in sports just as easily as getting physically involved. Let them be the kind of fan they want to be.
Take them to a game
As mentioned, just as there are those sports fans who love to get involved physically and who love to learn everything about the technical side as they can, there are those who love feeling involved with something bigger than them. That’s a big component of just about anyone who supports a local sports team or athlete. If your child is old enough to attend a game, then taking them out when possible, even if it’s an occasional thing, can be a great way to build brilliant memories associated with both the sport and you, and can be something that they look fondly on for years to come.
Let them have other interests
All children are going to develop multiple interests over time. In fact, as they develop those interests, they’re likely to drop an older one for some time while a new passion has their attention. As a parent, it’s up to you to acknowledge and accept that they have different interests and that sports may not always be a priority. When they are young, especially in their single-digit ages, they are going to have short attention spans, which means they can get bored with prolonged activities and want to do something else. You can encourage them to develop self-discipline, especially if they start competing, but you shouldn’t try to force them to sit and stick with something if they’re getting restless and distracted.
Don’t make it a “man thing”
First of all, if you are looking to share your interest with your daughters, you had better get rid of any notions of what being into sports means about them and their femininity. Everyone can love sports of any kind, whether it’s men or women competing in it. Gatekeeping isn’t going to help anyone. However, for boys, it sets a bad example if you try and tie their love of and skill with sports to any notion of what makes them a “man.” This is toxic masculinity in its purest form, and it can set them up with harmful notions about manhood for life. Sports is about athleticism, competition, and ambition in that particular field and it’s okay to inspire them with those thoughts. But don’t make it something that it’s not.
You can’t force a child to get into sports, of course. You can, however, make it clear that you have that interest and, if they want to get into it, you would be glad to share it with them. It’s the only natural way to share that love of sports with your kids. Hopefully, the tips above show you a more measured and considerate way to get your child to share your love of sports. What’s more, it’s one that’s likely to work more than simply trying to urge them to start doing sports out of nowhere.