Summer vacation is right around the corner, arguably the most wonderful time of year for K-12 students as they prepare for nearly three months of freedom from teachers, homework and text books. With so many electronic gadgets available, though, it can be tempting for a child to stay inside all summer, watching TV and playing on the computer. Simply put, while increasingly common, it’s not healthy.
Summer vacation should be about staying active—and participating in sports is an excellent way to keep moving. After all, the regular exercise from youth sports helps children strengthen muscles and bones, maintain a healthy weight, sleep better, improve their mood and self-esteem and have fun. If you’re wondering how to encourage your child to play sports this summer, here are a few pointers:
- Don’t live vicariously through your child: Just because you might have been the star quarterback and three-letter athlete back in your playing days doesn’t mean that your child will follow in your footsteps. Often times, it’s this type of pressure that parents put on their children when it comes to sports. Remember, youth sports is about having fun with peers.
- Try it first: These days, it’s easy to dabble in sports before fully committing. Even if your child seems uninterested in playing them, simply encourage her to give it a shot. Take her to the batting cages to hit some fastballs or to the local park to field some grounders. Go outside and kick a soccer ball. Take her to open skating at the local ice rink. This way, you’re not just enrolling your child into a sport she may not like — you’re helping your child find the sport that might best suit her.
- Encourage activity: One of the best aspects about team sports is that it’s an organized activity that combines skill with teamwork. It’s natural for some kids to be better at sports than others, just as it’s natural for some children to shy away from activity and working with others more than other children. However, ensuring that your child is active is important to her health and development.
- Go to a game: Baseball is known as summer’s pastime and chances are, there’s some level of professional or collegiate baseball team that plays in your area. Why not take your child to a ballgame and show her the game firsthand? Sometimes, the best way to fall in love with a sport—let alone baseball—is because of the memories that are made when a parent and child bond at a sporting event.
- See what her friends are doing: Peer influence can be a huge factor, especially at the youth age. While peer pressure is often perceived in a negative way, it can also be positive: Hence, sports. See what sports your child’s friends are playing this summer and encourage her to join them. Often times, all it takes is a little push for your child to become interested in sports.
Summer vacation is no time for sitting inside and playing video games—it’s a time to get outdoors, get some exercise and have a lot of fun. Youth sports can provide that outlet, and also build memories and friendships that will last a lifetime for your child. Help your child ditch the iPhone and the Xbox this summer by involving her in sports. She won’t regret it!
Brandon Capaletti is the vice president of Cisco Athletic, a manufacturer that designs, produces and distributes custom athletic apparel and uniforms.