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When Kids Hate Sport - What To Do
angry boy

‘I hate sport.’ ‘It’s so-o-o boring.’ If your child has ever expressed sentiments similar to these and you worry about them getting healthy exercise, don’t despair, there’s plenty that you can do.

First off, find out what it is about ‘sport’ that they don’t like. Is it because your son ends up face down in the mud every time there’s a scrum in rugby? Or maybe your daughter’s shins have taken one battering too many from a hockey stick?

Playing the game
It could be simply that they’re playing the wrong sport. Someone who enjoys tennis doesn’t necessarily appreciate a cricket ball whizzing past his or her ears. Nor does a keen swimmer have to quickly dry themselves down after a dip so that they can get in some netball practice.

We use the term ‘sport’ to cover a multitude of pastimes, activities and games, all of which are, broadly speaking, beneficial both physically and mentally. They get and keep children fit and healthy. They encourage character building and, in the case of team sports, a sense of common purpose.

But finding out which particular sport your child likes isn’t easy. Peer pressure can be persuasive. Who knows how many potential Wimbledon champions have been deterred at an early age because they ‘have to’ play football?

There’s the matter of facilities too. Your child may be a keen cyclist but if you live in a built-up area devoid of cycle paths then it’s going to be hard for them to do what they enjoy.

Ask around. At school, or youth clubs or youth associations like the Girl Guides or Boys Brigade.

Remember too that the great British outdoors can be a deterrent. Why not see if your child has an interest, or can develop one, in indoor activities like badminton or table tennis.

Bully off!
Maybe there’s bullying going on. There’s nothing surer to put a kid off a sport for life than if some thug is making their life a misery. Instead of complaining about the bully, children often settle for the easier approach of simply ‘disliking’ the associated activity.

Perhaps it’s team sports that your child doesn’t like and he or she is quite happy to progress at their own pace in a sport which can be ‘played’ alone, like running or cycling. Sport doesn’t have to be competitive.

Right role models
It’s a good idea to remember that ‘sport’ is more than just the usual TV diet. The Olympic Games is a great opportunity for your child to find out about ‘minority’ interests that don’t usually get broadcast.

Do they have a hero in an unusual sport? There’s nothing like a bit of admiration for others to encourage children. Again, the Olympics provides coverage (particularly in those areas where Britain has a medal chance) of sports TV would normally shun. How many decathletes were there in this country before Daley Thompson? Or ice skaters pre-Torville and Dean?

Of course if they decide they want to be the next Steve Redgrave, you’d better start saving fast. The local youth club doesn’t usually run to expensive rowing boats!

Expanding exercise horizons
Finally, ‘sport’ is an elastic term. They give medals for synchronised swimming. Gymnastics too are increasingly popular. And even the most hide-bound anti-sports children can often be coaxed into healthy activity such as yoga – especially if they don’t regard it as sport as such.

But the one great certainty is dancing. If all else fails then go with the flow of your child’s musical favourites – even if the very thought of today’s music sets your teeth on edge. Just about every kid in the universe loves dancing and it’s an absolutely ideal solution for the child who needs exercise but hates sport. Dancing is good fun and great exercise.

And the only additional equipment you might need is a pair of earplugs!



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