Healthy Kids

Motivating Kids to Stay Active

Sports and activities of all types offer tremendous physical and psychological benefits for kids. Unfortunately statistics show that 25% of kids drop out of organized sports within the first three years and many other kids who do not like sports are not exposed to the multitude of other exercise options that are more fun for the child and ultimately build confidence. When young children are asked why they participate in a sport or activity, their top motivational factors are to:

“Have fun”
“Be with my friends”
“Learn to do my best”
“Learn to improve (at whatever activity) and get stronger”

Responses like “win games” and “become popular” are at the bottom of the list. Young children have a more balanced view of sports than many adults! Parental attitudes and actions can enhance a child’s enjoyment, but often we can inadvertently apply too much pressure to perform and/or win. Regardless of whether it’s an individual activity or team sport, here are a few guidelines that research has proven motivate child participation in exercise:

Focus on what pleases your child in sports, not what pleases you.

Don’t try to relive your youth through your child. Some well-meaning adults invest a large part of their adult identity, their very being, in how well their youngster does at sports. This attitude destroys the child’s enjoyment and also the parent’s relationship with the young person.

Encourage your child to do the sport or activity he or she likes, not simply the one you like. If a child is pressured to be a baseball or football player because you like those games and instead really wants to be a golfer or swimmer, you lose in two respects: first, the child will not be happy or do well because there is little commitment and second, you’re be distracting the child from an activity that he or she might excel in - simply because they feel competent and are enjoying the experience.

Keep you child’s developmental age in mind....