Every good coach knows, that the family that plays together stays together. And sharing sports–either on the field or from the stands–helps build kids’ self-esteem and encourages a lifetime love of health and fitness.
The Burdett family knows this first hand. When daughter, Emily was 5 years old, she picked up a tennis racket and started hitting volleys with her mom, Maria. Big brothers, Wes and Kevin were about the same age when they strapped on ice skates to join their dad, Jim, in hockey practice. As the kids have grown, this sports-loving New York family has kept closer by playing together. “It really has been a bonding experience for us,” says Maria. “We travel together to the matches. And the kids are really supportive of each other.”
Sharing the love of the same sport can be challenging for families with multi-age and multi-interest kids. We can help make good sports memories by keeping these tips in mind:
Make evenly matched “dream teams” by pairing a star with a less-experienced member to play team sports. The goal is to inspire group competition, not individual competitiveness.
Extend your search into nontraditional options if you haven’t found a common sport. Suit up for surfing lessons, archery, or fencing to try something completely different.
Create a sporting tradition, and you’ll get more than a great workout–you’ll make great memories. Try hitting the links at a miniature golf course once a week or plan vacations around favorite activities, such as a hike on a mountain path or a bike ride on a seacoast trail.
Change the rules if your family doesn’t get into the groove. Your passion may be waterskiing, but if everyone wants to mutiny after the first spin around the lake, try a diving game instead. Focus on spending time together, exercising, and having fun.
Get moving together
Sorting adventures help you bond while having a great time at every stage of your child’s development.
Start-up sports fans ages 2 to 5
At this age, it’s all about movement and fun. Encourage free play with running, jumping, and chasing activities. Although they’re too young for most team sports, young children develop coordination and physical skills as they enjoy these activities. Root for a favorite team with your child, too.
Suit up, too ages 6 to 8
At this age there are three things that can come from sports: fun, new friends and new skills. Consider hiking or biking–or join an activity your child enjoys. If your daughter loves horses, enroll her in a riding class and saddle up with her. But don’t steal the limelight. It’s all about being a supporting player and having a good time while being active.
Be a rah-rah ages 9 to 12
Now’s when kids improve their skills to really play the game. Sideline support is a powerful way to share their interests and help build confidence. While some kids commit to a team sport at this age, others drop out. If that happens, help your child find the right activity for him. Introduce individual or small-group sports such as golf, karate, hiking, or tennis.