kids

Are they more of a water baby or a ball of energy? Find the right sport for your kids.

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Since popping out two boisterous boys, I’ve learned the importance of involving kids in sport from an early age. It keeps them off the couch, teaches them about teamwork and gives them the freedom to explore, play and make new friends. Sure, sometimes all that sharing of batons and balls means they score more than a goal at soccer (hello scraped knee, snotty nose and worms) but the benefits of sharing through sport far outweigh the cons. As long as you keep your handbag full of band-aids, tissues and those deworming chocolate squares, you can stay on top of keeping your family healthy and active. The real challenge is choosing the right sport for your child. I tried asking my three-year-old what his favourite sport was but his answer changed every hour, so I reckon your best bet is to base your decision on your child’s personality and behaviour.

The roadrunner = athletics.

If you get your daily dose of cardio by chasing your child through shopping centres, parks and supermarket aisles while hysterically screaming “STOP!” then you might want to get them involved in track and field.  They will able to indulge their passion for running in a more suitable environment while having fun with other equally energetic kids through relays, sprints, hurdles and high jump.

"They will able to indulge their passion for running in a more suitable environment." Image: iStock.

The pretzel = gymnastics.

If your child is focused and determined, loves to use the back of the couch as a balance beam and makes a beeline for the monkey bars at the park, then a gymnastics class is a great opportunity for them to develop confident body movement and build their strength, flexibility and self-esteem. Kids can start at any age, even as babies, and they’ll have the opportunity to tumble and cartwheel with a group of new friends and perform alongside them at festivals and events.

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"Gymnastics class is a great opportunity for them to develop confident body movement." Image: iStock.

The thrill-seeker = rock-climbing.

If your little one is frequently found on the top of the cubby house rather than in it, goes the wrong way up the slide and worships Spiderman, then rock-climbing will indulge their love of gravity-defying stunts. Indoor rock-climbing centres provide space for your adventurous child to race their friends across climbing walls with a guaranteed soft landing if they fall. It’ll enhance their coordination and balance and give them the freedom to play with their buddies in a safe yet thrilling environment.

The water-baby = swimming.

My kids have spent a large portion of their childhood at the beach or in the pool, so they’ve been enrolled in swimming lessons since they were only six months old. If your child never wants to get out of the bath and knows the name of every Octonaut, I’m pretty sure they will love splashing around on pool noodles with their fellow water-loving mates. Swimming lessons are essential for teaching kids about water safety from a young age but they are also heaps of fun and instil kids with calmness and confidence.

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"Swimming lessons are essential for teaching kids about water safety from a young age." Image: iStock.

The ball of energy = soccer.

If your child’s first word was “ball” and they’re energetic, social and eager to learn, soccer might be a perfect fit for them.  Soccer is great for learning how to cooperate and interact with others in a team environment while ‘thinking on the run’. When he was two, we found my older son dribbling Christmas baubles up and down the hallway so we enrolled him in soccer lessons. As an extrovert, he loves the social aspect of being part of a team and his face lights up as he high-fives his buddies after a successful goal.

Finding the sport best suited to your child can be a case of trial and error but observing their behaviours can certainly make it easier to find the right fit. Sharing is a vital part of learning and development, particularly through childhood sports. As parents we need to support our kids, not take sport too seriously and be prepared for every situation by making sure we have the right medication on hand if they do get an injury, cold, virus or worms – all completely normal when involved in activities with other kids. Keeping the whole family healthy will ensure that our kids feel free to play - whatever the choice of sport - and free to be whoever they want to be.

What sports to your kids love and why?

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