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What If Your Child Doesn't Like Sports?

Baseball is in full swing! Two and three year olds are trying out their first little sluggers classes. Four and five year olds are breaking in their new gloves, chasing grounders, and hitting off a tee. Older kids are making new friends, catching pop flies, and learning to pitch in Little League. Everybody seems to be having a ball. Well… maybe not everybody.

What happens if your kid isn’t into sports? Maybe your little one has no interest in sports or just isn’t athletically gifted. What do you do?

1. Relax!
It’s not a big deal. Take a deep breath. We live in a society that’s obsessed with sports, but there are millions (perhaps billions!) of happy, fulfilled kids and adults living rich lives that don’t involve organized sports. As long as you love and support them, your child will be fine with or without sports. Make sure you respect their interests and don’t make a big deal about it. You don’t want your child to feel like they’re doing something wrong by not loving sports.

2. Find out why your child doesn’t like sports. Your child’s interests and abilities may change as they grow. Try to figure out why they don’t like sports before moving on. If your three-year-old throws a fit at soccer class, it may not mean they don’t like soccer - it may mean the class is too close to their naptime. If your five-year-old gets frustrated every time they miss a catch, your child may need more practice to boost their confidence and another year to develop hand-eye coordination. But if your seven-year-old is miserable playing baseball for three years in a row now, it’s time to move on and focus on their other interests.

3. Don’t be a quitter. You’re half-way through a baseball class and your little one decides they hate baseball and wants to quit. Don’t let them do it! Unless there are extenuating circumstances (like bullying), don’t quit in the middle of a season or class. This isn’t about sports; it’s about not being a quitter. By sticking with it, you’ll be teaching your child a lifelong lesson about commitment and responsibility.

4. Get physical. Being physically fit is important for leading a long healthy life. But just because your child doesn’t want to grow up to be a major league baseball player, doesn’t mean they are going to be a couch potato. Get outside and get active. Try different things like hiking, biking, skateboarding, swimming, etc. Find physical activities your child likes to do and do them regularly. Luckily, physical fitness and playing organized sports aren’t one in the same. And don’t be afraid to try out different types of team sports - baseball might not be a hit, but joining a soccer, basketball, volleyball, hockey team may be your child’s thing.

5. Deal with your emotions. You may experience a sense of disappointment if your child isn’t into sports. You may have been looking forward to teaching your child how to throw a curveball and watching them hit their first home-run. You may remember how painful it was to always be picked last in gym class, and don’t want that for your little one. Deal with your own feelings, honestly. Have an open conversation about your feelings with your significant other or a friend.

6. Join a group and plan plenty of playdates. Sports are a social outlet for many kids. They make friends and establish a sense of camaraderie with their teammates. Don’t let your child miss out on fun and friendships. Think about joining groups that will promote socialization as well as other positive values such as Scouts, Brownies, or a church youth group. Plan playdates and/or outings for your child so they have a chance to develop meaningful friendships with kids who share their interests.

7. Find their inner passion and get involved. Help your child find their inner passion. What gets them excited? Is it art, music, acting, coding, etc.? Get them involved! Try out things like art classes, music lessons, acting classes, robotics… the list is endless! By focusing on their passion, you’ll be helping your child build their sense of identity and self-confidence.

Jessica is a freelance writer. She lives with her husband and three sons.

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