Every weekend in Southwest Riverside, it’s the same scene — streets teem with painted mini-vans that cheer on “All Stars,” parents tote lawn chairs and coolers trailed by a loyal crew of siblings and grassy fields swarm with little athletes that hustle hard for a big win.
These days, sports occupy a significant part of a child’s up-bringing.
But, what if your child has no inclination to join a team or participate in a sport? What then?
Try a new arena. Fortunately, there are lots of ways that youngsters can tap into the self-esteem, strength-building and coordination afforded by organized sports—without having to sign on as a player.
Read on for some fun, fresh-air alternatives to traditional team sports:
- Swimming—Gorgeous, year-round California skies make it possible for swimmers of all ages and size to swim, splash and even back-stroke their way to competitive (or non-competitive) success.
- Cycling—Just imagine the places you’ll go and the things you’ll see. Not only is cycling a great aerobic workout, but the entire family can join in on the fun.
- Horseback Riding—Local stables are brimming with qualified professionals who’ll get your child saddled up and ready to ride.
- Martial Arts—The individual nature of this sport allows kids to pursue achievement at their own pace. It builds confidence and is a valuable tool in self-defense.
- Skateboarding/Rollerblading—Let’s face it—skateboarding has come a long way. And it’s easy now that skate parks are cropping up all over the place. Of course, insist on safety pads and helmets.
- Hiking—Break out your walking shoes and hit the trails for a brisk, nightly jaunt. Or take to the hills for a scenic, breath-taking tour of Nature’s best. The whole family can tag along.
- Dancing—It doesn’t matter whether it’s ballet, ballroom, tap or twirling around your living room, turn on the tunes and let the music move you. Not only will your heart rate soar, but so will your mood!
Finally, whichever sport or activity you choose, study it carefully and consider the following questions. If you can answer “yes” to most of them, you may have a winner:
–Is my child’s skill level and size appropriate for the activity?
–Are the challenges and expectations appropriate for my child?
–Are all children given meaningful opportunities to learn skills and participate fully?
–Is there a focus on development of fair play, teamwork, sportsmanship, and having fun?
–Does the activity leader provide encouragement and positive feedback?
–Are all children treated with respect?
Above all, create a supportive environment by modeling a fit and healthy lifestyle. Stress the importance of exercise and engage your kids in fun, heart-pumping activities. But, most of all, have fun.
Kerri S. Mabee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me on Twitter @kerrimabee.