Guest post by Jordan Fuller
So your kid wants to learn something new! Figuring out your role in how to teach kids a new hobby and sports can be tricky.
Most kids will learn best from a coach who specialises in their chosen sport or hobby. But some kids (especially the shy ones) may want to learn at home before they are placed in a group learning situation.
Or maybe they’ll choose arts and crafts instead, which means they’ll most likely be learning from home.
Whatever your child’s temperament or chosen activity, your role is important. They value your opinion, your input, and your praise, so how you get involved can make or break your child’s success.
Here’s our advice!
Ask Their Opinion
Just because you were a champion baseball player in your youth, it doesn’t mean your kid is going to have the same skill or passion.
Your first step should be to find out what they want to do! Maybe their friend plays tennis and they like the look of it. Perhaps they love kicking the soccer ball around the backyard. Or maybe they’re a little shy and would prefer an individual sport like running.
It’s essential to make sure that you don’t accidentally push your child into a sport that you love, or used to love as a kid. Ask their opinion and find out what they would really like to do. They’ll be much happier for it!
Do It With Them
Once your child has decided what sport or hobby they want to do, the best way you can show support is to do it with them! Obviously, we don’t mean joining them on the field or taking part in their team practice.
But a huge part of support is to practice with your kid at home. Ask them to show you what they learned, throw or kick a ball for a bit, or work on something specific together. Remember to check that your kid wants to do it first, don’t make them feel obligated.
Here are two ways you can get involved in your child’s sports training.
Share Your Passion
If your kid happens to choose the same sport as the one you love or one you did as a kid, share your excitement with them!
Chances are they’ll feel more excited about it when they know you’re excited too, and this can be an excellent time for parent and child to bond over a mutual interest.
If you’ve got an old bat, glove, basketball, or whatever piece of equipment you still have from your childhood, pass it on to them.
Tell them about your favourite players and ask about theirs. Watch the sport on the television together! Sharing excitement for a sport is a great way to keep your child interested and make sure they have fun with it.
Lead By Example
Most kids learn by doing, not by being told what to do. You can get involved (at home, not during a team practice) by helping your kid practice.
If they’re struggling with something specific, set aside an hour or so to work on it with them. Teach them how, but also show them the movements. Get them to copy your movement, and gently correct them where they need help.
If they play a sport you aren’t totally familiar with, YouTube is your friend! You can watch a couple of videos online and learn how to do the thing they’re working on. From there, it’s easy to show them and work on it together.
Have a Reward System
It’s no secret that kids (okay, humans) are motivated by the idea of a reward. When it comes to sport, the reward is often winning a game or scoring points. In terms of hobbies, the reward is the outcome, which may be a physical thing or learning a skill.
You can up the excitement a little by adding your own rewards system. However, make sure you’re doing this to add to the excitement your kid already has for their sport or hobby, not to try and drum up excitement where there isn’t any. If that’s the case, your kid needs to be doing something else!
For example, you can set up your own points system where you allocate points every time your kid scores a goal/points, has an excellent catch or shot, or shows great sportsmanship.
Set rewards for reaching a certain amount of points, and your kid will have an extra incentive to do better in the sport or hobby they love!
Go to the games! Take them to practice. Ask them about it. Get excited about your kid’s chosen sport. If they feel supported, they’ll enjoy it that much more.
Remember to check in with them, though. Ask if they’re still enjoying it. Find out what they like most about it. Check if there’s anything they don’t like.
Remember, this is about them, not you. Your little slugger may be a highly talented kid with a bat in their hand, but if they don’t want to be there, it’s your job to make sure they never feel forced into it.
So get excited for what they’re excited about and show them support through your cheering, questioning, and praise. But don’t get so overly excited that they feel like they have no choice but to be doing it so you’re happy!
Remember, even though your kid is likely going to be learning sports from a coach or working with a team. But that doesn’t mean you should just stay out of it.
Getting involved in the process to teach kids a new hobby and sports can be extremely fulfilling, and it’s also a wonderful opportunity for parents and children to bond over something fun and interesting.
Above all, remember this is about the kids. While we’re advocates of support and excitement, there’s nothing more uncomfortable (for spectators and kids) than an overly “coachy” parent yelling at their kid from the sidelines!
Give them space to do their thing. Whether it’s on the sports field or an indoor hobby, and whether they’re super talented or just another face in the crowd, allow them to have fun and learn and grow through the experience.
About the Author
Jordan Fuller has been playing golf for decades, and he shares his passion for the game by mentoring young golfers. When he’s not on the range or the course, he can be found researching or writing for his website, Golf Influence.