In our rugby-mad nation, it can be a surprise if your child is not interested in playing sport, or is not very good at playing sports. Our culture suggests that every child should want to grow up to be an All Black or a Silver Fern. But the fact of the matter is, some children just aren’t that interested in sport. And that really doesn’t matter. Instead of putting your head in your hands and crying out ‘my child is not sporty!’, support their other hobbies.
My Child Is Not Sporty And That’s OK
It takes all kinds to make the world go around. Every person has different skills and different interests, including children. Just because all the kids in your street are playing weekend sports, does not mean that your child has to.
Have you ever said to your child, ‘If [so-and-so] jumped off the harbour bridge, would you?’ I am sure we have all said something similar when teaching our children that peer pressure is not OK. So why do they need to cave to the peer pressure of playing a sport, just because it is a common hobby in New Zealand.
There are so many other hobbies that your child can pick up to keep their mind active and to have fun. They could learn an instrument, join the Scouts [http://www.scouts.org.nz/] or Girl Guides [https://www.girlguidingnz.org.nz/], go to drama or dance classes, have a craft or book club with their friends, or anything else they love to do.
Keeping Them Active
It is important to keep active for strong, healthy bodies. While sport can be an excellent way to keep your children active, there are lots of other things you can do too. Here are some ideas…
- If you have a dog, take it for a walk as a family
- Encourage them to get a paper run – responsibility and exercise all in one!
- Play Spotlight with torches in the evening
- Try an individual pastime like swimming, gymnastics, rollerblading, horseback riding, or martial arts
- Go for a family hike, or a family bicycle ride
- Old favourite games like hopscotch, hide and seek, backyard obstacle course, freeze and hula hoops
The Social Aspect
Team sport can be fantastic social interaction for children. It teaches them cooperation, sharing, turn taking and respect for others. But your children do not need to play a sport to get this kind of interaction. Involve them in other activities that include groups of children, and arrange lots of playdates with their friends.
As a parent, you may be disappointed that your child is not showing a love for sport. You may have been looking forward to teaching rugby tackles, dribbling, fancy soccer footwork, or how to shoot goals. Make sure you process your feelings away from your child. Don’t let them know if you are disappointed. Find a way to support the things that they do love to do, then you can enjoy those things together.
As an athletic society, some parents may be concerned if they find that their child is not sporty. But you don’t need to worry, sport is not a necessary part of your child’s life. Everyone is different, with different abilities. There is no need to despair if your child is not sporty. There are so many other activities that they can enjoy that keep them active, gives them the social chance to make new friends, and gives them a sense of accomplishment.