Who can relate?
Keeping kids interested in their sport can be an ongoing challenge. Over and over again I’ve seen parents begging, bribing and everything in between to get their kids to their after school activities.
Why is this an issue? Simple - kids are not mini adults. They do not view physical activity as a means to strength, good health and longevity of life. In their eyes, if something is fun they will do it. Many adults will tell you their training was tough or that they don't always feel motivated to go but they have good habits and other strategies to get themselves there. When kids face this hurdle, they simply don't want to do it. Child's logic - why would anyone do 20 burpees in a row? Haha But if it was 20 body slams to crack open a dinosaur egg, it's another story. Today I'm going to share with you some tips to keep kids motivated in sport.
The number one reason kids drop out of sport is because it’s not fun anymore. The second reason is pressure. As parents we walk a fine line between these two points, we don’t want our kids giving up without putting in some effort, but we also don’t want to be ‘that parent’ screaming from the sidelines.
The fun factor ultimately comes down to your club and your coaches. Leading experts in kids sport 100% recommend choosing a club based on the coach, not the location or venue. A great coach will significantly impact your child sticking with a sport, plus an inspiring coach provides an amazing role model and this is something every child needs. Part of my role is working with clubs and coaches and helping them to be their absolute best, but today's blog is for the parents. So how can you make sport more fun for your kids?
Here are my top tips:
1) Speak positively about being active yourself. Monkey see, monkey do and if you're complaining about the gym or talking about being lazy, it won't take your child long to follow your lead. So be proud of what your body can do, be grateful for the lifestyle you share with the kids and let them hear all about it!
2) Cheer them on! When the kids are training, get amongst it, (as much as is permitted by the club, that is.) Let them see you watching (not scrolling on a phone.) Listen to the coaches tips so you can talk about it with them later. Kids love nothing more than being the star in their parents eyes and this will certainly help keep their motivation levels up.
3) Follow up at home - positively! Take time during the week to practice together in a fun way. Get the kids to teach you the skills they learned and put you through the drills. This may not be possible with all sports and if this is the case, get them to give you some warm ups or do some stretching together. Play chasey and talk about how much fun it is to move your body.
4) NO PRESSURE! Even if your child shows incredible aptitude for their sport, they are not at the Olympics yet. They are a child and they want to have fun. As frustrated as we can all get watching our kids muck around in training or put in a lacklustre performance, the worst time to bring this up is in the car ride home. Studies have shown that this kind of mental pressure on a child is an emotional overload. They are trapped, (quite literally) in the car and hearing a lecture on the way home is a sure fire way to speed up the 'I quit' mentality we are trying to avoid.
5) "I love watching you play sport." Six POWERFUL words. Use them regularly. I use them frequently, sometimes beaming, sometimes through gritted teeth and deep breaths. You see, ultimately we are wanting to create a positive and powerful life-long relationship between our children and physical activity. We want them to be healthy and they want to make us happy. We want them to keep on exercising and letting them know how proud we are watching them is 5 gold stars in their eyes.
So remember, you are your child's first teacher, most influential role model and number one cheerleader. Wear these titles like badges of honour and support your child with a happy and healthy attitude towards sport.