Frequent physical activity is just as important for adults as it is for children. For children, exercise contributes to healthy growth. It’s a way for toddlers to experiment with motor skills and dexterity. What’s more, it also helps them build their stamina and cardio fitness. However, not all children like to exercise. To encourage them and offer them an enjoyable experience, you need to find a discipline that really appeals to them. Here are a few ideas to get you on the right track.
Assessing your child’s stamina and energy levels
Not all children are equally fit. Some are more energetic than others. To find out which sporting discipline suits them best, you need to take this factor into account. How do you assess their stamina?
Endurance refers to the maximum amount of oxygen your child ‘s body can convert into energy. This is called aerobic capacity. Generally speaking, young people have more stamina than adults, because they know how to make the most of it. That’s why you’ll see children running all day without feeling the least bit tired.
Nevertheless, each individual is different. While some like to spend their day running around outside, others prefer to sit at home and play a construction game or a puzzle. For the latter, focus on concentration sports such as..:
For hyperactive children, avoid martial arts and team sports such as soccer and basketball. Instead, opt for:
- Horseback riding
- Obstacle course
Present them with their options and ask for their opinion. That way, they’ll be more motivated than if you imposed your choice.
Assessing your child’s physical ability
The choice of a sporting activity for your child will also depend on his or her physical ability. Some disciplines require specific conditions, such as a certain size. Take the case of a basketball player. Taller individuals find it easier to reach the hoop and score points. To keep your little one motivated, you need to nurture his self-confidence.
We advise you to observe your children ‘s daily actions and evaluate their talents:
- With a good sense of balance, suitable sports include skateboarding, rollerblading, ice skating, skiing, surfing and so on.
- With good coordination and an artistic flair, we recommend rhythmic gymnastics, dance, obstacle course, synchronized swimming, etc.
- With good endurance, opt for running, cycling, swimming, cross-country skiing, etc.
- For those with greater strength, the alternatives are downhill skiing, athletics or climbing.
That said, in addition to your child’s physical ability, you should also take into account his motivation and passion. This determination will help him excel in his discipline.
Does your child prefer to play outdoors or indoors?
Today, many sports can be played both indoors and outdoors. They include
- Martial arts
For this type ofactivity, clubs tend to alternate. So, sooner or later, your child will have to practice both. If he prefers one over the other, opt for a discipline that matches his preferences.
- Winter skiing
Take your child’s interpersonal skills into account
Every child is different. Some integrate more easily than others into a new social environment. You need to consider this factor before signing your little one up for any physical activity.
If your little one doesn’t enjoy contact with others, there’s no point in forcing him or her. Avoid sports such as boxing or martial arts. Avoid team sports such as soccer, basketball, volleyball or handball. In this case, the preferred activities are :
- Rock climbing
On the other hand, your child is always accompanied by a group of friends. This may mean that he knows how to live in a community and enjoys interacting with others. You can then opt for sports such as:
- Ice hockey
- Water polo
- Synchronized swimming
That said, physical activity isn’t just about maintaining good health. It’s also an excellent way of teaching children to socialize. If you want your little one to open up a little more to others, suggest they try a team sport. If, after a few months, he really doesn’t like it, you can always get him to change disciplines.
Which physical activity is right for your child’s age?
The choice of physical activities for a child depends closely on his or her age. Some disciplines require well-developed motor and intellectual skills. So which sport should you choose?
From 0 to 3 years
Physical activities are also important for toddlers. To maintain their health, they need to move around a little. Of course, this doesn’t mean intense exercise, but rather moderate sessions .For children under one year of age, pediatricians generally advise parents to prepare their children ‘s knees and legs for walking. To do this, make bicycle movements with their feet every morning and evening. This will strengthen their joints as well as their muscles.
From the age of 1 to 3 or 4, children should bephysically active for 3 hours a day. Here are a few ideas:
- Passing the buck
- Interactive floor games such as play mats
Ages 4 to 8
By this age, children have already acquired a certain level of motor skills. That said, their abilities continue to develop. To support this growth, physical activity is essential. Since children aged 4 to 8 have already forged their own personalities, you should take this into account when choosing the right sport for them.
Some of the most recommended disciplines are:
- Horse riding
Between the ages of 8 and 12
Choosing a physical activity between the ages of 8 and 12 depends on a number of factors:
- The child‘s character: shy, reserved, aggressive, restless, extroverted
- The child‘s physical abilities: endurance, coordination, cardio, etc
- The child‘s preferences: group, individual, indoor, outdoor
Visualize what you want your little one to achieve. Do you want him to be more patient, less boisterous, more outgoing, more independent or more compassionate? Above all, sport is a powerful educational tool. Generally speaking, all disciplines contribute to building self-esteem, which is a very important factor in the education of youngsters.
So which activity should you choose? For 8 to 12 year-olds, we recommend:
- Combat sports
- Table tennis
Which physical activity is right for a teenager?
For many, adolescence is a difficult time. It’s filled with uncertainty and unease. At times like these, sport can become a driving force for feeling better. Ask your child what state of mind he or she is in, and suggest activities that might help them overcome their difficulties.
- For shy teens: team and contact sports are the most recommended.
- For introverts: we recommend teaching your child to rollerblade or enrolling him or her in martial arts.
- For teens with concentration problems: dance, yoga, archery and billiards are excellent alternatives.
- For weight loss: swimming, aquagym, running or dancing.
- For asthma sufferers: cycling, tennis, rowing or cross-country skiing.
- For de-stressing: opt for hiking, rollerblading, climbing, cycling or yoga.
Find out about your child’s favourite sports
Play sports, yes, but don’t force your child into a discipline he or she isn’t passionate about. This could demotivate him, and worse, discourage him entirely from trying other activities. In the end, you’ll gain nothing.
Encourage communication between you and your children or teenagers. You’ll be able to discuss as a family what they like and don’t like. You’ll avoid spending money on courses that don’t interest them and in which they don’t give their all.
For little ones who still find it hard to express their desires, observe their attitudes. If they can watch an entire match in any discipline without tiring of it, it may be the right sport for them. Then suggest they try it out a few times and see how they react.
You can also present them with other alternatives to give them a wider choice. Watch a few games of soccer, basketball, volleyball, tennis or other sports together and give your child the last word.
Don’t judge your child’s choices
The main role of parents is to support their children in their decisions. There’s no such thing as a bad sport for so-and-so. Boys can choose dance, gymnastics or figure skating if they wish. Put prejudices aside and defend your little one’s passion against all odds.
Similarly, girls can opt for wrestling, climbing, rugby or soccer. Respecting your child ‘s choice will also help build self-esteem and self-confidence. Going against his passion could undermine his morale and make him depressed.
On the other hand, if your child has chosen a discipline that’s a little too expensive for you, gently explain the situation. Reassure him that you’ll look for cheaper alternatives and courses. This will encourage him. After all, you’ve got to strike while the iron’s hot.
Finding your child’s physical activity: our tips
When it comes to making choices that affect them, children and teenagers sometimes tend to be indecisive. To help them find thephysical activity that’s right for them, you need to give them a little guidance. To do this, you need to take into account factors such as their personality, stamina, physical capacity, size and mental attitude. Age is also an important consideration.
Make a list of the disciplines that might interest your children. Ask them to watch a few matches to get a feel for the sport. Then give them time to give you their answer. Once they’ve made their choice, encourage them no matter what. The first few days of adjustment may be difficult. Be understanding.
To help your child improve in their new discipline and find their place easily, find out about the most popular courses and coaches at the moment. And what about you? What physical activities have your children chosen? How did they decide? At what age did you enroll your children? We invite you to share your experience with us in the comments.