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Encourge your child to take on fitness, sporting activities

Photo credit: 100blackmenba.org

It is very important to give your child a head-start on lifelong fitness. Being fit helps even adults to stay away from certain illnesses especially if it is heart-related and gives you that boost you need in life.

One of the most important goals is to find physical activities and sports that your child enjoys and that encourages a lifetime of staying active and fit. Therefore, consider physical activities that are age- appropriate for yout kids to give that start they require.

For parenting enthusiast and mum, Mrs. Bright Azubuike, with your encouragement and support, chances are a few sports will spark your child’s interest. “I always enjoy engaging kids in sporting activities especially my child, but I try to.ensure I am not going overboard with the exercise I do.”

While it is important to consider age-appropriate activities for your child, this way, your child is likely to show natural preferences for certain sports or activities with their maturity and abilities in mind.

For ages 2 to 5:
Toddlers and preschoolers are beginning to master many basic movements, but they are too young for most organised sports. For children in this age group, unstructured free play is usually best. This may include: running, hopping, skipping and jumping, tumbling, throwing and catching,
swimming, riding a tricycle or bicycle and climbing on playground equipment.

For ages 6 to 9:
As children get older, their vision, attention spans, motor coordination and skills, such as throwing from a distance improves. They are also better able to follow directions. Therefore sports and activities that may be appropriate for this age group include soccer, running, gymnastics, swimming, tennis, martial arts, dancing, jumping a rope, hiking and skating.

At this stage, they should have improved on the above mentioned activities and when carefully supervised, their strength training begins to develop and they become motivated. They also become focused on proper technique and movement.

For Ages 10 to 12
At this age, most children have mature vision and the ability to understand and recall sports strategies. They are typically ready to take on complex skill sports, such as football, basketball, hockey and volleyball. Keep in mind, however, that growth spurts caused by puberty can temporarily affect a child’s coordination and balance. Because children enter puberty at different ages, there can be dramatic physical differences among children of the same sex- particularly boys. Children competing against others who are more physically mature might be at increased risk of injury.

Mrs. Azubuike who is also an educator, however, stressed that whatever sports a child participates in, ensure that he or she has a foundation of proper technique and movement. “Most schools these days engage in interhouse sports competitions which further hone these skills in children. It is important that parents encourage their kids to participate.

While some may later take this up as a career path, others need it to grow and be fit to carry on in life. Whichever one your child takes on, ensure it is a part of their life.

In all, be positive and encouraging. Emphasise on effort, improvement and enjoyment over winning or personal performance. This helps your child into maturity. Attending events and sport practices as your schedule allows, including being a good model of sportsmanship for your children to follow, also helps improve their love for sports.

“Always note the sports your child enjoys and ensure its emphasis on age-appropriate skill development. Also ensure that your child is not limited to a single kind of sport, as variety is the spice of life. Focusing on one sport could prevent your child from testing his or her skills and experiencing other enjoyable sports. Sports specialisation can also lead to stress and burnout.”

On the safety and wellbeing, she harps on ensuring that the sports programme is physically safe, promotes skills development, and encourages fair play and respect among players.

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