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I am looking for a sport for my son, but he cannot seem to settle for anything. This phrase resonates with many parents who struggle to find an adequate sport for their child. Although sports is not obligatory (like school), many families feel that participation in such activities is a necessity. Make no mistake, sport is great, and not just for children. Apart from the obvious benefits to the body, research has often associated participation in sporting activities to improved mental health. Team sports are well known for the quality of teaching companionship, conflict resolution, team work, empathy and communication. The overall benefits are astounding, once the person engages the right sport. Engages, is the word to note here. Not every sport will yield the same benefits to different individuals. Some like ball sports, some like martial arts and some like dancing. It is important to start by finding the sport that fits your child. Luckily, there are plenty of institutions today offering foundational courses in sports, which offer a taste of different disciplines for the children to try. In this manner, the children can attempt a variety of sports, without creating excessive inconvenience to the parent.

Some parents however, do not opt for this option. Some parents still test different sports. Clearly, as their child chooses to discontinue lessons, parents often become frustrated as they would have wasted money on fees, attire and memberships. But, what can we do? The answer to this question must first acknowledge that our fixation with the sport may be affecting how we act around children. What I mean here is that we often assume that boys want to go for football and girls for ballet. We enrol them the classes accordingly. Notice here, how it OUR choice not the child’s. I do not discount the possibility that the choice may be correct, or that the children might enjoy some of it, however we must keep in mind that the nature of children is found in curiosity. I implore all parents to see this. Children learn by roaming the choices and explore each in some detail. Much like we scout different houses in order to choose the right home, children scout everything; from food, to friends; to toys; and to sports. Once this is clear, then it becomes simpler to accept that your child will probably ask to try a different sport. At least, knowing this can help you plan ahead and avoid paying fees unnecessarily. Eventually your child will find the thing that can be right for him or her (whether it is sports or any other activity).

Steve Libreri is a social worker and parent coach within Willingness. He offers parent coaching and social work sessions. He can be contacted on steve@willingness.com.mt.