Enrolling your kids in an organized sport brings up a host of questions: Is my child old enough? Which sport? Do the benefits outweight the risks? Below, iVillagers speak out. They can tell you which sports have worked for their kids, and how they've learned to make the most of their child's athletic interests.
Follow Your Child's Lead
"If your daughter is showing interest I would encourage her. My five-year-old daughter played T-ball last year and loved it. She was more interested in associating and meeting new kids than playing, but still had moments where she really played ball. She was on a co-ed team and there was never a problem. If your daughter doesn't like it, just don't sign her up the following year and wait for her to show interest in something else."
"Our 4-year-old daughter loves most outdoor activities, and appears to have a natural gift with connecting bat to ball. We practiced all summer and fall (taking her lead), and she can really nail that ball! She seems more than interested in joining a team, but I have some reservations...
"As a sports fanatic from an early age, I would suggest supporting your daughter's interests. Sports build self-esteem and an 'I Can' attitude. My parents supported my athletic side, but also nurtured my feminine side. Now I am a 30-year-old mom, with children of my own, and I intend to foster growth in their abilities whereever they may lie. As far as I'm concerned, sports and kids go hand in hand.
Find a Good Sports Program
"My husband and I have run a youth football league for seven years. If your child is interested in playing organized sports maybe these tips will help:"
1. Call your city parks department and get the number of your the league's representative.
2. Ask if you can bring your child to watch a couple of practices so your child can get a feel for the game up close.
3. If your child decides to play, have faith in your coaching staff. I have never met a coach that wanted children to get hurt.
4. Expect bumps and bruises. Some sports, such as football, are full contact sports, so this is normal."
Remember, Not All Sports Require a Team
"I would highly recommend karate. It's something kids can do at home, and it's great for self-discipline. It can be as competitive as you and your child want. The emphasis is on fun and technique. Both my son (age six) and daughter (just turned four) participate and have a great time. I've also found that the instructors provide terrific role models in that they take the sport very seriously, train consistently, don't drink or do drugs and treat each other and the students with utmost respect."
--iVillager Member Anna T.Jackie
"Baseball has been a wonderful experience for my daughter. She started T-ball at five and is now in Little League. My advice is to attend the practices and even offer to help out. If you don't like the way it's being run, you could always pull your child out."