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Encouraging Children to
Become Fit, Healthy and Happy

Although you should share your interests with your child, it's never a good idea to force your child into an activity just because you once excelled in it.

In fact, many children may worry that they won't be able to measure up to the success their parents once enjoyed playing a particular sport. Your child needs to know that although you would love to share your love of softball or basketball with her, it would be equally acceptable if she would rather play golf or tennis, or take up gymnastics or karate.

You should also keep your expectations realistic - most children never make it to the city finals or become Olympic medalists no matter how hard they try. The ultimate goal is to help and encourage your child to become fit, healthy, and happy.

Parents should try to remain openminded about their child's chosen sport. For example, it's possible that your child may enjoy a sports activity that is not offered at her school or that is not offered for girls. If your child wants to try football or ice hockey, help her find a local league or talk to school officials about starting up a new team. Boys may prefer figure skating or ballet. Let your kids know that no matter which sport they choose, they have your support.

You'll also need to be patient with your child if she has difficulty choosing and sticking to an activity. It often takes several tries before a child finds an activity with which she feels comfortable.

Even if your child never belongs to a sports team, there are many other areas of her life where she can learn important skills like teamwork, competition, and cooperation. Clubs, school and volunteer activities, band or music lessons, acting or debating groups, and many other activities teach children to work and get along with others.

Fortunately, there are also many alternative ways to keep fit and active other than organized sports.

Many children choose not to join teams, and prefer activities that can be done alone or with friends. Suggested fitness alternatives include:

  • cycling
  • swimming
  • horseback riding
  • dancing
  • in-line skating
  • running
  • skateboarding
  • hiking
  • martial arts

These activities help children build self-esteem, strength, coordination, and general fitness.

Reference Source 50


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