Published 10 Oct 2022
Kids sport isn’t just about cold weekends and participation medals. Sport teaches lifelong lessons about motivation, winning, losing and creates connections in the community. Presenting ‘Supporting Kids in Sport’ podcast with registered teacher and psychologist Tim Dansie.
For many children, the last two years of organised sport has been, at best interrupted, but even prior, supporting our kids to get involved in sport, and being confident to give things a go has always been important.
GMHBA Healthier Together podcast speaks to registered teacher and psychologist Tim Dansie about how we can support our kids in getting involved and enjoying sport.
Why is it so important to have kids involved in sport?
Getting our kids involved in sport is so much more than just a weekly activity. Organised sport teaches us about:
- Wellbeing and development
- Winning and losing
- About making an effort
- Team work
- Being organised to be on time and get to sport
- Commitment and not letting down other people
- Conflict resolution and exposure to different personalities
- Meeting other children and making friendships outside of school to broaden networks. Through sport, kids can make new connections.
- It’s a networking tool - You never know who you’ll bump into as an adult!
What age is the best time to get kids involved in sport?
As parents, it’s important to play games with your kids. From the age of two, games like volleyball over the couch with balloons (think ‘keepy uppy’ on Bluey!) teaches turn taking, winning and losing, coordination and counting.
Looking for ideas with your youngster?
- Five Minute Mum (her website and Instagram) have fantastic ideas for games to play with things around your house
- Next time your kids are watching Bluey, pay close attention to how Chili and Bandit (Mum and Dad) incorporate games into every day tasks.
- Active Geelong has great tips for kids
From the age kids are ready for school, they’re ready for a team sport but it’s not about winning. At this age, it’s about participation not competition, as well as learning and developing skills.
There’s wonderful junior programs available in Australia – Aus Kick, Net Set Go, Milo Cricket, Little Kickers, local swimming and Little Nippers. (link each). There’s also funding available through Get Active to assist with the costs for eligible families.
When do we push reluctant kids and when do we back off?
It can be difficult getting your kids to try new things, especially when it's not working out. If they've made a commitment to a sport or team, you should try to support them sticking it out for a term or season. However, understand that there are times when this isn't possible. Look for signs of distress in your child and if it's having a negative effect, it's time to back off.
How do we encourage older children, tweens and teens to stay involved in sport
We are all are living in a stationary, tech-filled world and each generation is dropping sport earlier.
We need our teenagers and adolescents to be active and keep fit for their general wellbeing. Our teens don’t need to be in a team sport, but they need to be active just like you do.
Individual sports where you can be part of a team are great for introverted kids, like tennis, golf, cycling. For children that are not ‘sporty’, or don’t love team activities let’s find something they CAN do. It might be bike riding , getting them out walking, or activities like swimming or golf. It’s important to get them outside rather than inside.
You can make activity a currency, for example - every hour you’re out walking, you can have time on the iPad. Of course you can gauge whether you think this is having a detrimental impact on your child, and adjust if you need to.
As parents, we need to role model to get reluctant kids to join in. Your kids need to see you being active – going out, walking, going to the gym, getting into sport.
You can get involved too
Being good at sport or a good sport, kids pick up more than just ability from their parents. Be a role model by showing your presence at community sport. The best thing parents can do is get involved -consider helping out in the school canteen, time keeping or supporting the coach. The idea of ‘drop and run’ won’t help engage your child.
Managing passionate parents
Sometimes on the sidelines, you’ll see an active parent – perhaps too passionate for the poor referee.
If you see other parents being a little overzealous, explain to your child that we can all see things from different perspectives, but at the end of the day, it’s just a game. The idea behind a game is to have fun!
If you’re that parent and find yourself getting fired up over outcomes, Tim suggests getting more involved, volunteer to be a ref or umpire, help the coach.
How to deal with comparison
We’ve all heard the old “I’m not good at this”. In fact, we’re all probably guilty of thinking it. While kids and activities need to be about participation, not winning, we don’t want to discount a child’s feelings.
Instead of responding to that type of comment with positivity, evaluate how they played the game. Ask “tell me three things you did well today”, and then “Okay, what areas would you like to improve? Let’s work on these areas.” This strategy can be applied to sport, school, work and is a great way to positively reframe the situation.
On the other hand, if your child’s team wins, it’s equally important to celebrate the team’s win. “The team had a really good win”.
The best thing you can do for your kids is to stay active yourself
Like so many aspects of parenting, the best thing we can do for our kids is look after ourselves and role model good choices by joining in.
Be engaged and support but don’t push if it’s detrimental to anyone’s health.
Find active resources near you:
- Active Geelong
- Outdoor activities in Ballarat
- Outdoors & Nature - Bendigo & Heathcote (bendigoregion.com.au)
More from Tim Dansie
Tim can be contacted through tdpsych.com. You can find his podcasts on ‘Setting your child for Success’ through: