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Exploring your child’s love of sports

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Let's be honest – not every child is a born athlete or is well coordinated. Some of us are just born with two left feet. Like me. I spent my early childhood collecting cuts and bruises on my elbows and knees, constantly falling down even on the flattest of terrains. My family often says that I had my head in the clouds.  In second grade I fell down from a balance beam (it was a different time then, I can't imagine second graders balancing on a beam today) and panicked so much that I lost my breath for a few seconds. Consequences? I fear heights to this day, and in fact everything else I can't completely control. It didn't help that my parents weren't really into sports and that my mom wanted me to play the piano. So no dangerous sport equipment for me ☺. 

When I became a mother, despite my fear of climbers and monkey bars, bikes and rollerblades, I tried to encourage my daughters in their need for physical activity. They went to ballet classes, trained volleyball and swimming. And they liked it. I insisted that they learn to ski; so that when they grew up they could go skiing with their friends and not be embarrassed that they couldn't go down a slope (like I was). But in the end genes played a crucial role, one is clumsy, while the other one is well coordinated and has a talent for a variety of sports, but fear often holds her back.

And this leads me to my point. We can all agree that physical activity is important for overall health – both physical and mental. That's why we have to ensure it is part of our children's lives. At the same time, we need to listen to them and to pay attention even to the things they're not telling us. Yes, they should try as many sports as we can indulge. But no, they shouldn't be forced to do things they are not comfortable with. My brother has run away from a ball his entire life, afraid that it'll hit him. Yet he was a state swimming champion. One of my daughters wants to try bungee jumping and paragliding and any sport that requires more guts then physical prowess. The other one is flexible and has endurance and stamina and could play any sport she wanted. She's content with her A in P.E. But she's happy knowing that if she wanted to, she could play any sport.

As I mentioned – pay attention to your kids. When you're playing outside does your child like to chase a ball or climb a tree? Do they like the water? Do they prefer winter or summer? Trust me, the answers to these questions will be telling and will help you to guide their activities. 

Apart from that, I found that there are things you can do with your child at home. Your child will exercise if you do it together.

  • Aerobic exercises, with small water bottles as weights. It's both fun and good for the both of you.
  • You can jump a rope for 10 minutes. I hear that this kind of exercise can burn more calories then riding a bike for 30 minutes.
  • Do squats and crunches together. I bet your kid will be super competitive, both of mine were. They still are. 
  • Play catch and set a record at tossing and catching a tennis ball.
  • How many times can your child kick a balloon before it falls to the floor? Are they more comfortable using their feet or their hands?
  • If your doorframes are solid enough you can always install a pull-up bar. My daughters loved using it when we went to visit our relatives. When they were little they just used it to stretch (with an adult always at hand to help and support). As kids get older they’ll be able to test their strength and start doing pull-ups.  

And these are just some ideas for indoor activities. Outside, the sky is the limit. Literally. All you need to do is be ready to go on this adventure together.

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