Getting Your Kids Active When They Hate Sports

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So your kid balks at the idea of joining a team sport at school or with a local organization. They’d rather be holed up in their room, reading a book or playing video games, or they’re much more likely to bring home a sign-up sheet for a community play than they are a kickball tournament at the park.

And while you want your child to explore their own interests and hobbies, and follow their own pursuits, you still want to get them active and keep them healthy.

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to get your kids active even when they hate sports. Here are six tried and true ways to make sure they (and the entire family) get some exercise.

1. Get in some steps while exploring their interests

Have you ever been to a big museum, the kind where it takes an entire day to explore, and then you get home and realize your feet are absolutely killing you?

Exploring those museums takes a lot of steps! If you’re having a difficult time getting your child up off the couch and on their feet, why not find a way to incorporate some lengthy walks into exploring their particular interests?

Do they love art or history? Head to a museum. Do they love animals? Go to the zoo. Prefer plants or just getting that perfectly posed Instagram shot? Take them to your nearest botanical garden.

2. Purchase a pool membership

Swimming provides a difficult workout, but it’s one just about everyone can enjoy, especially in the hot summer months. Sign up for a family membership to your nearest community pool and watch your kids swim and splash their way to healthier lifestyles.

3. Adopt a new family hobby

active kids yoga

While your child may not enjoy playing a team sport, they may be more open to outdoor and active pursuits if the whole family is involved. Try a new outdoor or active hobby like hiking, cycling or geocaching, and get your child to help with the decisions and planning. (And if one hobby doesn’t work out or doesn’t suit your family well, no worries — you can always try another until you find the perfect fit.)

4. Mix screen time with fitness time

While it can be tempting to give your child all the screen time that they want — it keeps them happy and busy, after all — try to at least incorporate some fitness into their screen time.

If your child is young enough to play along, turn family screen time into fitness time with fun challenges, such as, “Whenever Character X says their catchphrase, we’re going to do ten jumping jacks!” or “Whenever a commercial with music comes on, we’re going to dance it out for the entire commercial!”

If your child is a little bit older and antics like these will only get you an eye roll, consider surprising them with one of the few video games that include an active component, such as a VR game or a game from the very popular Just Dance franchise.

5. Give them active chores

If you can’t find a single thing that’s active that they’ll also enjoy, turn your child’s chores into an opportunity to burn off some calories at the same time.

Vacuuming, raking leaves, mowing the lawn, weeding or even just cleaning the baseboards are all chores that will build up a sweat.

6. Play a game

While many children aren’t a fan of playing sports, many of those same kids are open to playing a game outdoors with their family or friends. Maybe they won’t play a game of catch, but they will take on Mom in a hula-hooping contest. Maybe they won’t play one-on-one basketball in the driveway, but they will play tag with their little siblings.

The Most Important Things to Remember…

When it comes to getting your sports-avoidant kid active, just try to remember a few things.

  • Get your kid in on the planning process.

If they can help choose and plan, they’ll feel ownership over whatever activity they try.

  • Make it a routine.

If you do find an activity your child likes, make it part of their routine, so they’re more likely to stick with it for the long-term.

  • Don’t add on any unnecessary pressure.

For many kids who don’t prefer team sports, a big part of their avoidance is the heavy pressure that can come with sports. Try not to add any unnecessary pressure to the activities you try with your child and keep any competition purely friendly.

  • Get involved.

Lastly, get involved and invested in whatever activities your child chooses. Give them the support they need, and you’ll be rewarded with knowing that your child is living a healthier life, thanks to your decisions.

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