Kids and Sports - the Dos and Don'ts
Ever since my child could talk, he’s had sports on his mind.
How else do you explain the fact his first word (and the next 1,000 as well) was “ball?”
As a doting parent, I had no choice but to accommodate his wishes. So I got him a basketball. And then a football. And then a baseball. And then a golf ball. And then a tennis ball. And then…
You get the picture.
As a result, I suspect we’ll still be finding balls of all sorts hidden under couches and behind chest of drawers for the next 16 years.
But now that I have a couple of years under my belt of raising an eight-sport star, I’ve learned a few things that if I had another child I’d do again…and some other things that I most certainly wouldn’t.
For example, when introducing your child to sports…
Do assess technical fouls on your child for holding onto the wall-mounted basketball rim after a slam dunk. If you don’t, they’ll eventually pull the hoop and the anchors right out of the drywall. Then you’ll have a crying baby and a couple holes in the wall to deal with.
Don’t think you’re going to find a left-handed golf club for your toddler. They don’t exist. Consider it your child’s first hard-knock life lesson - it’s a right-handed world, and we left handers are just trying to fit in. An excellent substitute is a toddler’s hockey stick.
Do introduce the idea of “tackle hugs.” Not every child is willing to give you a much-needed hug on demand. But every toddler loves the idea of getting up a full head of steam and crashing into their parents arms ala an NFL linebacker.
Don’t take your infant to a major sporting event. You won’t be able to enjoy it because all of your attention will be on them, and they won’t be able to deal with the noise that goes along with 30,000 screaming fans. Instead, take them to a high school game or an event that won’t be heavily attended. They’ll have the freedom to move around, and you won’t be constantly asking your neighbor, “What just happened?”
Do create a baseball diamond in your living room. What’s more enjoyable than watching your child run around the bases and give you a high-five as they head for home plate? Combine that with the fact it lets them burn off some energy on days when the weather keeps you inside, and it’s a win-win situation.
Don’t let your child chase the family pet around the house with a golf club, cocked and ready to deliver a punishing blow (your pet will thank you).
Do take your child…bowling! If you’re looking for something novel, most bowling alleys have child bowling ramps and bumpers to use. Your child will have the time of their life watching the ball make its way down the aisle and into the pins.
And finally, don’t miss out on the opportunity to share sports with your child at a very early age. Sports is a great way to burn energy, develop hand-eye coordination, learn about sharing with friends, and ultimately create some unforgettable images and memories.