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“My kid doesn’t like sports at all and I don’t know what to do.” Does that sound familiar?

Some kids don’t like sports – they might not want to join the school football team, start swimming classes or play basketball during recess – and that’s totally OK.

We all know that being active and fit as a kid is extremely important. It has multiple benefits, both physical and mental. Also, different studies show that daily activity has a positive impact on their sleep, their mood and even their school performance.

The fact that your kid doesn’t like sports or participating in organised physical activities doesn’t mean they can’t be as active (or even more so) as those who do.

These are some of the most common reasons why kids don’t like sports:

  • They haven’t found a sport they really love yet. Sometimes kids try a new sport and for some reason they don’t like it and don’t want to continue. It’s important that parents support their children in this decision. Eventually, they will find an activity that they enjoy – it’s just a matter of time.
  • Their trainer or their parents are very competitive and they don’t want to let them down. Many kids are not prepared for competitive games till they are 11-12 years old and prefer having fun rather than competing.
  • They are very shy and feel uncomfortable in social situations. They might like individual activities for now more than team sports.
  • They are not ready for that sport. Every kid follows their own development and maybe they are not as strong, as co-ordinated or as big as other kids their age. If that’s the case, they probably won’t enjoy it very much.
  • They don’t like to lose. After group activities, try to ask questions such as whether they enjoyed it and if they learnt something new, rather than who won.

Here are six ideas to help your kids exercise (almost without them realising):

  1. Make their day-to-day more active. Walk or bike when possible, use the stairs rather than the elevator, ask them to help you wash your car, and go for walks with them or to the park.
  2. Go treasure hunting. This game reinforces problem-solving skills while also being active. Using a countdown timer or incorporating clues that get them running from place to place will increase the activity. If you need help, Geocaching is an awesome app that has plenty of treasure hunts available set up over the UK.
  3. Games that involve physical activity, such as Tag, Hide-and-seek, Simon Says and Marco Polo, are fun, improve their fitness and allow children to develop social skills.
  4. Technology can be your ally. It can motivate kids who love technology, and video games, games that involve movement and children’s fitness trackers can be great tools.
  5. Go on a nature hunt. It’s a fun outdoor game that encourages exploration of the world around them and can be done in your garden or in the park. There are many different scavenger hunts you can do as a family, depending on the season.
  6. Involve them in taking care of your pet. If you have a dog, involve your kid in walking, playing and taking care of it. This will teach them responsibility and empathy while adding some activity every day.

The most important thing is that children move a little bit every day – it doesn’t matter what they do.

Don’t put pressure on your kid. Forcing them can be counterproductive and make them hate exercise even more. For children, exercise must be fun, not an obligation.

Try not to use words like ‘sport’ or ‘exercise’. Instead of that, suggest doing a fun family activity or a game with friends in the park.

And remember, kids always learn by example. If you are an active person, they will be more likely to develop a positive attitude towards exercise and become more active themselves