If video games were a sport, I’m pretty sure my 7 year old son would already be on a varsity team somewhere being eyed up by major colleges in preparation for a career in the big leagues. But alas, video gaming is not really considered a sport. And I can’t base my retirement on my son’s eventual successful career in it.
Because of his love for all things video (that includes computer, TV, video games, etc.) and the fact that he’s an only child and these activities lend themselves to solitude, I struggle get Evan up and out and ACTIVE. Even worse is the fact that I spend my life in a similar fashion. I work on a laptop all day and make sure that wherever I go, my iPhone is close at hand. My head is often buried in a screen (even if it’s reading my Kindle or playing games on my iPad late at night).
As for my athletic history, it’s pretty brief. I tried swimming lessons and failed. I became a majorette and failed. I joined a softball team and failed. And then I decided to focus on drama club instead.
I’m constantly challenged with how to get Evan more active when he self-admittedly doesn’t like sports. If this is your kid too, maybe these suggestions might help you out.
1. Tae kwon do
Although my experience with martial arts was limited to a trial class at my friend’s aikido class, Evan went to a tae kwon do birthday party when he was 5 and fell in love with it. After we moved, we finally enrolled him last year and even though he’s protested going for about 9 out of the 12 months, it’s a sport that promotes self-defense, self-confidence, respect, honor, and a self-motivation. I can tell you that belt testing day is a very proud day for him, indeed.
Downside: It’s expensive ($100+ per month plus belt testing fees and equipment).
When I was talking about Evan’s lack of interest in physical activity, my neighbor suggested he might like tennis lessons. A local elementary school teacher (and high school tennis team coach) offers lessons twice a week in the summer (usually early in the morning to beat the heat). I mentioned it to Evan and I think he was intrigued because, once again, it was a solo sport.
We bought him a racquet and practiced just hitting the ball out on the driveway and that little boost in confidence made him excited to start lessons. Before we started, he informed me that he did not want to play tennis. He just wanted to practice. After a few lessons, he’s now complaining about the practice and wants to play a real game. Progress!
Downside: It’s outside and can be HOT. But luckily it only lasts an hour in the morning and you can buy a decent kid’s racquet from Walmart!
Swimming is an activity AND a sport. Right now, we’re focused more on the activity but because Evan already loves the water, this is a bit of a no-brainer. While he’s loved the water since he was young, he’s always been very apprehensive about it and has relied on the safety of his floaties (did anyone else call them waterwings when they were young?).
On my mother-in-law’s insistence, I signed him up for swimming lessons earlier this year. I was worried about the class I had picked because the kids needed to be able to put their face underwater without any hesitation. On the first day, the swim teacher (who happened to be a cute young thing) asked Evan to put his face in the water and even made him NOT hold his nose. I guess all it took was a pretty girl telling him what to do to get over his fear. He’s now swimming like a champ!
Downside: Unless I’m in the water too, it’s pretty boring to watch. But I’d wear my suit and jump in the water after swim lessons and help reinforce what he’d learned.
Are you noticing a pattern here? Evan is drawn to activities that are not team related in any way. And I’m fine with that. In team situations, it’s easy to compare yourself to other kids and to feel pressure to do well (and feel the wrath when you don’t). But it was peer pressure that finally got him riding a bike with no training wheels last summer and he’s been wheeling around the neighborhood ever since.
This year, when he finished first grade, we took him to a professional bike shop and got him a really nice bike. It was love at first pedal and he’s out on his bike more now and is even ready for a family bike trip.
Downside: It can take kids a while to get it and if you’re like me, it’s hard to remember how I even learned!
5. Wii U
Oh yes. Video games CAN be a sport. There are plenty of games on the Nintendo Wii U (and other gaming systems) that encourage activity. We have Just Dance, which is one of my favorites, but we also have Wii Sport, Wii Sports Resort, and Mario Sports Mix, all of which require physical movement to play the game.
If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!
Downside: It’s a video game and you do have to set limits or else they’d sit there playing games all day all in the name of “sports.”
If you have a somewhat non-active kid, I’d love to hear ways in which you’ve gotten them involved in sports!