Not all sports are good for every child.
Because of this, it’s very difficult to allow your child to pick what sports to play.
Age, coordination, and mental/physical ability are three important factors that play a key role in choosing athletic activities.
Wisdom Really Does Come With Age
Usually by age seven, a child's sense of logic is just beginning to surface. Between the ages of seven and twelve, children are generally able to articulate an opinion on a particular sport. In addition, most have the ability to identify one or two things that they do or don't like about it. This age usually doesn't possess the ability to come up with a strategy while playing a sport by themselves. Neither do they hold the ability to rationalize that their form, strength, or skill, could improve if they do something different. This is why within this age group coaches spend a lot of time telling the team players what to do or where to go during games. Even though at this younger age, kids appear to be confused and don't always know what exactly is going on during a game, they do carry the ability of knowing whether they like or dislike a certain sport.
After age twelve, according to Piaget's theory on cognitive development, children are able to use logic and reasoning to predict outcomes. This is important because it suggests that kids at this age know whether they're both physically, as well as mentally able and willing to play a particular sport. This age group is also capable of foreseeing the next move or play and predicting whether it's a good one or not. They're also able to correct previous actions in order to improve without being specifically told by a parent or coach. Since they know this, they are better able to determine if they hold the desire and the ability to play the sport.
Photo Credits: Keysia Griffin's Flickr
Guidance Versus Manipulation
Sometimes parents don't even realize they're influencing their child's decision. When a parent plays a certain sport as a child, especially when they excel at it, often they hold a strong desire for their child to play that same sport. It’s important to realize the difference between guidance and manipulation. Many parents can manipulate, bribe, and persuade their child to choose the sport that the parent wants. The end result is that it's the parent's choice, not the child's.
In order to truly allow your child to decide what sports they want to play, guide them. Avoid statements like, "Yeah, but if you play baseball, you..."
Instead, ask questions. "Do you like baseball?" "What's your favorite part about playing baseball?"
Try asking this about several other types of sports. "What about basketball?"
It's also helpful to your child when you make sure that they understand the sport, or game they're expressing an interest in. "Do you understand the rules, such as what a field goal is?"
Kids, especially when under the age of twelve cannot as easily distinguish what it is about a particular game they don't understand. Try and guide them by asking, "What parts of baseball don't you like?" or "Well, okay, so you love going up to bat, but do you like playing second base, or is that boring?"
Letting your child make the ultimate decision isn't as difficult as it may seem at first. Listen to your child and guide them with ideas and questions that their mind doesn't automatically think about. In doing this, the likelihood of your child choosing the sport that's right for them is much greater.
If your child is involved with a sports team, you might also be interested in the importance of parents in club activities.