Parents often express concern when a child shows no interest in sports. Is that in fact a problem? If you have this concern yourself, one of the first things you may want to do is to take an honest look at why it bothers you. Did you play the sport yourself and enjoy it? Were you envious of others who were athletic if you were not? Do you feel it builds character? Is it a good way to be sure your child stays active and gets exercise to maintain good health?
Not all adults participate in sports or even enjoy being a spectator. Likewise, not all children have an interest in sports. According to a poll from the National Alliance for Youth Sports cited by the Washington Post in 2016, around 70% of kids in the U.S. stop playing organized sports by the age of 13 because “it’s just not fun anymore.” That statistic gives us a lot to think about as parents.
If your primary concern is that your child gets some physical exercise, it’s a real concern in this time of sedentary children and a high rate of childhood obesity. Look for options that might appeal to your child. Many children shy away from competitive activities but might enjoy a sport or active hobby that involves bettering their own scores or times. Sometimes, the barrier for children is that a parent is too intense or intimidating about participation. In the heat of a game, many parents exhibit some over the top behavior that can cause a child to feel pressured or embarrassed. Your answer to more exercise for your child could lie is something as simple as being a more active family – taking walks together, biking area trails, or swimming regularly.
Socialization is another answer many parents give as to why they want their child to be involved in sports. They want their child to develop teamwork skills and learn about taking on a project as a group, reasoning that it’s a skill they will likely need in the workforce someday. Again, look for other options to develop this skill. Some children enjoy scouting or participation in youth groups that get involved in community service projects. Science or math clubs can offer challenges to work out as a group also.
Part of being a parent is respecting individual differences in our children. Still wishing your child was more interested in sports? Leave the door open. As your child grows, they may develop different interests than they have now. Even if they don’t, there are many ways to help your child find what is right for them as they grow into a confident and balanced young adult.