If your child doesn’t like opera, that will probably go unnoticed. With sports, it’s a different matter.
Americans spend more than $100 billion on sports annually, with more than half of that going for sporting events, according to a 2017 survey by MarketWatch. On average, they also spend more than 4 hours each week watching sports programs and news.
Not sharing a favorite national pastime can be awkward. As a parent, you may also be concerned that your child will miss out on the benefits of participating in sports, including physical fitness and social skills.
Fortunately, there are other ways to keep your child healthy and engaged. Consider these suggestions for raising a child who doesn’t like sports.
Physical Activities for Children Who Don’t Play Sports:
1. Take a walk. It’s often overlooked because it’s so simple, but walking is very effective at burning calories and conditioning your heart. Studies show that a brisk one-to-three-mile daily walk reduces the risk of death by about 10%.
2. Do more aerobics. For greater health benefits, supplement walking with more vigorous cardio workouts. Your child might enjoy cycling, swimming, or running.
3. Train for strength. If your child is mature enough to play sports, they’re probably ready for resistance exercises. Check with your doctor and provide adequate supervision and age-appropriate equipment.
4. Go dancing. Zumba burns about the same number of calories as jogging, and your child might think it’s more fun. Watch videos or take classes to learn more steps.
5. Put on skates. Kids love ice rinks and skateboard parks. Check with your local department of recreation and parks to find free lessons for youths. Discuss safety measures too.
6. Learn martial arts. Karate and other disciplines build confidence as well as muscles. Visit a variety of dojos and ask for free trials to help you choose a program that suits your child.
Social Activities for Children Who Don’t Play Sports:
1. Play music. When it comes to encouraging teamwork and discipline, a band can do anything a sports team can do. Just learning to play a musical instrument also boosts brain growth, as well as reading, math, and motor skills.
2. Perform on stage. Acting is another way for your child to work on their communication habits and increase their emotional intelligence. They can audition for a role in the school play or enroll in youth programs at many community theaters.
3. Join a club. Schools, neighborhood centers, and other venues offer a wide range of associations for kids with similar interests. Your child can develop their hobbies and expand their social circle.
4. Attend camp. For a briefer but more immersive experience, send your child to camp. Popular themes include STEM, outdoor adventure, and arts education. If you’re on a strict budget, contact nonprofits like Boys & Girls Clubs and YMCA. Ask about financial assistance and discounts.
5. Volunteer together. Participate in service projects designed for families and youths. You can support one-time events or find recurring opportunities where your child will have more time to bond with others.
6. Get a job. Children gain real-word experience, as well as a paycheck, with an afterschool job. Studies show that most students can maintain their grades as long as they work less than 15 hours a week.
Your child can make friends and stay physically fit without footballs and baseball bats. Pay attention to their interests, so you can help them choose activities that will allow them to have fun and develop important life skills.