Encouraging Kids to Stick with a Sport

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Encouraging Kids to Stick with a Sport: Balancing Perseverance and Knowing When to Quit

Participating in sports can provide numerous benefits for kiddos, such as promoting physical fitness, developing teamwork skills, and fostering discipline. But, inevitably, there may come a time when a child expresses a desire to quit.

As parents and mentors, it is essential to strike a balance between encouraging perseverance and recognizing when it’s time to let them quit. And it truly is a balance — so let’s explore some effective strategies to encourage kids to stick with a sport while also understanding when it’s appropriate to support their decision to quit.

Communication and Empathy
Open and honest communication is key when discussing a child’s desire to quit — or even level up — a sport. Take the time to listen to their concerns, fears, or frustrations. Try to find out the specific reasons they don’t like the sport; is there another child they don’t like? Does the coach make them feel good about themselves? You may be surprised to find the problem isn’t actually the sport. By empathizing with their emotions, you can better understand their perspective and find ways to address their concerns before throwing in the towel completely. Plus, these soft skills will transcend sports and trickle down to their daily lives.

Set Realistic Expectations
Help your child set realistic expectations and goals for their sport. Encourage them to focus on personal progress rather than comparing themselves to others. By celebrating small achievements and milestones, you can boost their confidence and get the motivation ball rolling. Let them experience and be motivated by the joy of snowballing achievements.

Provide Support and Encouragement
This one goes without saying, but as the parent it’s our job to offer continuous support and encouragement throughout their sports journey. Attending their practices, cheering them on during matches, and showing genuine interest in their progress can make a significant impact on their desire to persevere through tough seasons.

So now that we know the basics of support — let’s talk about when it’s time to hang up the cleats:

Persistent Lack of Enjoyment
If your child consistently expresses a lack of enjoyment or dreads participating in their sport despite your efforts to motivate them, it may be a sign that it’s time to consider letting them try something else. Remember, the main goal is for them to love fitness all their lives — not just one season.

Exploration of Other Interests
As kids grow and develop, their interests may naturally shift. If your child shows a genuine passion for another activity or sport, it might be worth considering a switch. Encourage them to explore new avenues of physical fitness while ensuring they understand the importance of commitment and follow-through. For some families, a commitment to one full season, or one full year, is enough to test the interest waters before jumping into another pond. Find what will work for your family, and your kid, and let ‘er rip.

Encouraging children to stick with a sport requires a delicate balance between perseverance and recognizing their needs and desires. At the very least, don’t let your kids quit on a bad day. Encourage them to stick it out to a certain time or season, and remind them they do have the freedom to move on — but not when emotions are high and unregulated.

By employing effective communication, setting realistic expectations, providing support, and being flexible, parents can empower their children to make informed decisions about their fitness journey that will be a life-long affair — not just one game, one tournament, or one season.


Who wrote this post...

Tiffini Steding

Tiffini Steding

Tiffini joined CrossFit Renew as a never-before CrossFitter in 2021. She started with the intention of improving her fitness after her second son was born, and burpee box jumped her way into wanting to be a part of the CrossFit way of life in a more significant way. In the fall of 2022, she earned her status as a Level 1 CrossFit coach and went on to pursue the CrossFit Kids certification so she could coach her 7-year old son and his friends. Outside of the gym, Tiffini likes to go down rabbit holes reading about anything from turtles (thanks to her son) to historical events to the emerging world of Artificial Intelligence. If she had to choose a favorite benchmark workout, it’d have to be Annie.

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