My five-year-old son is currently involved in his first year of Little League. As an avid Red Sox fan, I am thrilled, hopeful, and filled with pride. But what is the best way to introduce your preschooler to organized sports? After one failed attempt at soccer and now a relatively successful run at Little League, I’ve learned a few pointers that I would like to share with you.
Find organized sports that are age appropriate. My son has started little league with T-ball. Kids focus on running to the correct bases, throwing, catching and having fun. Now is not the time to introduce them to all of the complexities of baseball. T-ball is age appropria
Be involved and be an example. You should make sure you are involved with your child’s sport somehow. If you can help coach the team, assist on the sidelines or arrive early to practice some, your child will love doing something special with you.
Don’t make it competitive. Preschoolers should not be thinking about scores or how well their team is doing compared to another. There is plenty of time for that in later years. Your want to build their self confidence and help them feel comfortable with the sport. Encouraging competition at this age just gives them one more thing to worry about.
Don’t compare your child to another. Children shouldn’t be compared with one another either so that they don’t feel insecure about their abilities on the field at this very young age.
Limit playing time. Even if your child is enthusiastic at the start of the game, chances are that after about a half hour (or less), they will begin to lose interest. Don’t push it. If they are done and walk off the field, call it a day.
Don’t force them to do anything they don’t want to do. If your preschooler gets there and decides that he or she just doesn’t feel like playing, then don’t force them to. They are learning about organized sports by just watching too.
Keep the rules simple. Make sure that sports at this age simply focuses on basic social skills such as taking turns and sharing. If they only work on these basic rules, they will have learned a great deal about sports in their first year.
Make it about fun. The best measure of your preschoolers success with their sport is the amount of fun they are having. That’s all it is about at this age. If they are having fun, they will want to do it again. If they see sports as a matter of stress, a chore or something that seems more about pleasing their parents, they won’t want to do it again in the future. So relax, let your child be as involved as they want to be and let them simply have fun.
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