What Should I do if My Child Shows no Interest in Sports?

It’s a common problem among parents: their children are not interested in participating in sports. What to do about it? Some parents decide there is nothing they can do and leave well enough alone. Other parents, however, feel the need to continue to push their children into sports for one reason or another. If you choose to encourage your children into organized sports, try taking a different approach than insisting they need to participate. Here are a few suggestions to encourage enthusiasm instead of curbing it.

  1. Simply put: ask your child what they would like to do for extracurricular activities. It might not be what you want to hear, but attempt to have a conversation with your child about why they are not interested in sports and try to find a way to connect the activity they do like with a sport that might be a good match. For example, if your child is more interested in playing video games than playing baseball, try to make a connection between their favorite video game and the sport: baseball is like an adventure game because you have to reach bases and rack up points! It’s like a live action video game!
  2. Try to find a sport you can do with them. If a team sport is not in their future, that doesn’t mean that physical activity or sports in general has to be out of the question. Rather than playing football on weekends, why not try golfing together or swimming at the local rec center. Children are more apt to participate in a new activity – of any kind – if a parent can participate with them.
  3. If you are really hung up on wanting your child to play organized sports, offer to coach the team or help coach the team. Perhaps the reason your child doesn’t want to play is because they are afraid, so if you are around and helping out that might encourage them to let go a little more.
  4. Start slow. Don’t enroll your children in several activities at once, especially if they are showing no interest. Agree on one activity for each semester of school or over the summer and stick to just one. With time your child may become more interested in sports other kids are talking about and playing, but if they aren’t showing a lot of interest now, slow may be the way to go.
  5. Get them to join a team with a friend. Showing up to practice alone can be scary so find out if your child has friends who are also going to be playing. Monkey see, monkey do with kids. It’s that simple.

In the end, if your child has tried and doesn’t enjoy themselves, let them quit. Sure, it’s wasted money but it’s not the end of the world and it doesn’t make them a quitter. Keep the upper hand by explaining to them that they can quit this sport if they agree to try a different one instead. If you keep the lines of communication open with them and let them know you are trying to help them find new things to enjoy, they might be more receptive. And if they won’t budge, well congratulations, you have a child who doesn’t like sports. There are tons of them out there. It’s no big deal. Just keep trying to find ways to encourage your child to try new things and something will stick.

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