Does it begin in the womb? Is it genetic? Whatever the case, there are some kids out there that are future A-Rods, and others that are future Millhouses. The fact is, no matter how hard they try, some kids are just plain non-athletic. In a world where physical education is required for most of a child’s school years and many kids in the majority of schools make their best friends from their sports teams, what’s a parent to do? Here are some ideas of ways to help.
If your child is completely non-athletic, he or she may have other interests that will keep them fit, and maybe you can avoid sports all together. Does your child like paddling a canoe, riding horseback or swimming? Sometimes you can get the non-athletic kids into individual activities such as running, cycling or hiking. Maybe your child would get exercise jumping on the pogo stick, or riding a skateboard?
Could it be that your child is athletic but simply doesn’t happen to excel at the sports presented to him? Some kids are just not cut out for the toughness of football or the dribbling in basketball. Maybe they’re not good with throwing or catching. Does this mean your child is completely non-athletic? What about shot put? Pole vaulting? Has your child tried the long jump? Cross country racing? Lacrosse? Field hockey? Fencing? Bowling? Skiing? There are a lot of “alternative” sports that your child might excel at if given the exposure.
Finding alternative ways to keep fit at home doesn’t change the fact that your child will be required to take physical education at school. There will come a day when he (or she) will be in line to go up to bat and he can’t shrink to the end of the line anymore without being called out. Face the music: whether it’s a game of kickball in gym class or a game of golf with the guys from the office, your child will encounter sports in his life. If there’s no graceful way of bowing out, here are some tactics:
1. Be funny. If your child is bad at something, knows it, and has to do it anyway, you can teach him to laugh it off. Everyone loves someone who can laugh at himself. Playing kickball and totally miss the giant ball coming toward him? Your child can make a joke. You might even consider coming up with a few one-liners your child can have ready for such occasions such as, “Thanks. I’ll be here all week!”
2. Practice the basics at home. If your son doesn’t want to be mortified because he can’t make a basket or catch a baseball, practice. Don’t make it torturous, but give your child a little exposure – at least enough to save face with his friends.
3. Find alternatives. Engage in other activities that your child is good at. This will boost your child’s confidence
Kids understand that no one is good at absolutely everything.
If you can be there to teach your child the basics, support him in his ups and downs and remind your child that he has a lot of great qualities and you love him for who he is (and so will his friends), you’ve likely won the battle. Icing on the cake? Notice and recognize your child’s effort. Does he try his best even when it’s just not his thing? What a kid! Be sure to praise, praise, praise. Good job – to both of you.