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Kids generally don’t need too much encouragement in their early years to get outside with a ball or bat, bike, scooter – keeping them active is easy and we are spoilt for choice when it comes to activities.

Encouraging kids to find an extra-curricular activity they enjoy is important not only for their development and health but also for the social aspect by providing a group of friends outside their school peers who also enjoy the same activity. This is just as true for adults and as parents, we have the opportunity and responsibility to model good habits as far as our own health and wellbeing is concerned. Enjoyment of our kids’ sport or activity must be the number one priority and for some, it will take exposure to many different sports to find the right one. Putting aside our own preferences is vital as our kids get older. Remember we want our kids to love their sport.

Where do you start? Well, there are so many activities on offer for both team and individual sports. Make sure you look outside the box from traditional sports (soccer, netball, tennis, dance, footy, basketball, swimming etc) to the vast selections available. With the Commonwealth Games just around the corner in our part of the world we have a great opportunity to expose our children to sports they may not have even thought of trying themselves.

WHERE TO START AND WHEN

2-5 years: Check out your local council programs (ie. Active and Healthy Gold Coast) for a full list of what is available in your area. There are many programs available to develop general gross motor skills that incorporate games and music, and for the older children in this age group, the program structures will vary to assist in specific skill development. At this early age, the most important aspect is having a go and having fun.

5-8 years: Most kids in this age group are trying many sports through school programs and joining clubs for weekend sport too. Everything from gymnastics, cheerleading, acrobatics, archery, surfing to athletics is on offer. Again, the communication with your child to help them find something they really enjoy and that suits the family timetable and budget is very important.

9-12 years: Kids generally have found something they enjoy by this age. If they are keen to get to training/practice and love their coach/teacher then you have probably found their sport (but not at the exclusion of all others, as this passion may change too). But if you are dragging them to training then maybe it’s not the right one for them. Finding out what they enjoy about their sport and what they are disliking is crucial to helping your child. Often as parents, we have, by this stage invested heavily in both time and money for the sport. But this needs to be weighed up with your child’s happiness and lifelong enjoyment of the sport that is crucial to staying fit and healthy, too.

13 and beyond: Our teens have generally found their groove by now. But as we know, the hormones will set in, mood swings and attitudes can change. Having the right coach can be integral to this part of the journey whether your child is playing for fun or looking to take their sport to the next level. Having someone to support, advice and encourage them can make all the difference. However, we also need to remember that for the most part, these coaches are volunteers. Manage your expectations and help your child do the same.

As parents, we have a responsibility to give our child the understanding of how to stay healthy – as we know the stats on childhood obesity/illness are shocking. If we can assist our kids to find the sport or activity that they enjoy, they are more likely to stick with it – it is no different for us. We are all more likely to stay with something we enjoy. Be a good role model for your child – no matter what age they are.

Fe Taylor

Fe Taylor  

Fe Taylor is a passionate health and wellbeing guru. Fe has dedicated her career in fitness, nutrition and wholefood education to help others along their health and fitness journey. Fe is a proud mum to her two boys, Tom and Jude. She is the founder of the Childrens Health & Wellbeing Expo, and currently serves as an ambassador for the chairty Nutrition Plus // www.fetaylor.juiceplus.com.au