Game plan: How to help a child who doesn't enjoy school sports
There are so many reasons why it’s important that your child takes part in sports at school, but what can you do if your child’s not keen?
According to Active Healthy Kids Australia, only 19 per cent of children aged five to 17 years meet the minimal national guidelines of at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day.
School sport, from PE lessons to swimming carnivals, can be a great way to get your children engaged in activity. But what if your child hates the idea of sporting activities at school?
Here are some tips to help:
Why does my child hate sport?
For formal coaching, consider a one-on-one setting, such as tennis, rather than a team sport where a large group might overwhelm your child.
Dr O’Brien adds that demonstrating a good relationship between you and the coach can also be important. “If the relationship between parent and teacher is really positive, kids will often feel safer and more interested in participating.”
If perfectionism appears to be holding your child back, Raising Children Network suggests encouraging them to practise in an informal setting. “Try setting small, reachable targets like ‘doing two good passes’, ‘running to catch up with another player’, or ‘dancing for three kicks longer’. This can help your child see and enjoy progress, and improve skills and confidence too.”
Praise and positivity
“Look for an environment that praises effort over results,” says O’Brien. Keep it light and positive. “Respect resistance and don’t push them or punish them,” she says. Instead, give them praise, whether for an improvement in their skills or an increase in engagement or effort. Focus on having fun, trying hard and being a good sport, rather than winning.
Use performance psychology
Lead by example
Leading by example will help encourage your kids to participate in sport and it needn’t require you to spend your Saturdays on the playing field. Play a little backyard cricket or throw a Frisbee on the beach, but whatever you choose, let your kids see you having fun.
Once you’ve worked out why your child might be reluctant to take part in sports, let them choose the activity they’re interested in. Remember to consider safe settings like small, informal groups or one-to-one coaching, set achievable goals, and give praise for improvements or effort. And make sure to include yourself in the equation – if your kids see you enjoying sports and physical activities, they’ll be more inclined to join in.