When our goal becomes “to tough up” our kids, we may unknowingly be negatively affecting their self-esteem.
For sensitive children, understanding their self-esteem, self-control and temperament can be a huge factor in the sports we encourage them toward. No matter how much we may have liked competitive or high-pressure sports when we were younger, we don’t want to set up a child, who’s already struggling, to fail. Rather, we should encourage our kids to engage in activities that help them build self-esteem and tolerance for stress in emotionally safe ways.
That said, here are five great sports options for sensitive children that support their emotional well-being.
Beyond looking at the sports and young athletes’ temperament, there are other questions to consider. For instance:
Another thing to consider is how many sports/activities to involve your child in. It can be tempting for young athletes, who have a natural aptitude for a specific activity, to specialize early. However, specializing at a young age has major drawbacks for mental health, including the risk of overuse injuries, psychological stress and burnout. Sensitive kids, especially, don’t need more risks, so it’s best to focus on exposure and diversity.
As for playing multiple youth sports, again, it depends on the children involved. If they love sports, it can be healthy to explore a range to see which they like better. If your child agrees, it’s perfectly fine to sign them up for multiple sports.
However, if your child is easily frustrated, sensitive or reluctant to do sports, cast a larger net. See if they like the arts, dance, theater, academic clubs or other activities that may not be sports-related.
Overall, the key is to find a sport that allows your child to have fun and feel a sense of accomplishment without overwhelming them. If you learn the sport is too far outside the child’s comfort zone, remember parenting isn’t about that specific sport but rather the child learning to know and trust themselves.
Children are more likely to try physical activities again if they feel emotionally supported without being forced. Whatever they choose, kids must feel emotionally safe for any sport to be a “win.”
About the Author
Sarah R. Moore is the author of Peaceful Discipline: Story Teaching, Brain Science & Better Behavior and founder of Dandelion Seeds Positive Parenting. As a master trainer in conscious parenting, she’s also a public speaker, armchair neuroscientist and most importantly, a mama. You can follow her on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.