Sports can do more for your child than just increase their physical fitness. They're also great for building teamwork, confidence and improving body image. Finding the right sport for your child can be challenging, and often you'll need to stop and start a few along the way.
Making new friends
When your child's young it can be helpful to have them sign up for a sport with a friend or two. However, it's also a good idea for them to make new friends at sport - just in case their friend is graded into another team, or decides the sport's not for them.
Benefits of team sports
Ideally children should try some form of team sport at some stage of their childhood. Playing a team sport builds resilience and teaches many skills that are invaluble throughout life - such as working as part of a team. But you can think outside the square, team sports don't necessarily mean only football or netball. Rowing, Gymnastics, Dance and Swimming all have team aspects and provide all the benefits. You just need to find the sport that suits your child.
Benefits of solo sports
A solo sport can teach persistence, dedication and build a child's self-esteem. Even though a sport may be played on their own, there are normally still a lot of opportunities for socialisation and competing with others so the benefits of team sport also apply.
How to choose a sport
Look to your child's interests, is she extremely active and loves running around? Does she enjoy watching her sisters play netball? Has she expressed an interest in a certain sport? Does she love to dance? Often what we love doing for fun translates to what we'll enjoy as a sport - so spend some time on-line researching what's available in your area. You could even spend some time with your child watching clips on YouTube or on a Sport's channel watching the sport in action.
Trying it out
Most sports will allow your child to try out a session or two without the need to buy a proper uniform or commit to a term or season. Usually your child can go along in a plain shorts and t-shirt combination to see how they like the sport.
Before your child signs up for a sport it's a good idea to work out some ground rules on how long they'll need to commit. Sport can not only be expensive (with specialised uniforms, shoes and fees) but it's important for children to understand that by leaving mid-way through a term, season or year they will be letting others down (team members, coaches and instructors). If ground rules are layed out before starting, then everyone knows where they stand - and children learn about the benefits of commitment and being part of a team.
Be a good sport
Regardless of what sport your child plays, remember you're their best role model. Be there to cheer them on and encourage their effort. Teach them the benefits of good sportsmanship and always ensure they shake the other team's hand and say "Well done". Sport is a wonderful opportunity for children to grow and mature into healthy, successful adults, and we're the perfect person to guide them.