It is never too early to get your kids to be active and involved in sports of some kind, but experts believe it is best to focus more on general movement, development, and overall play before worrying about teaching specific athletics skills. If signing your toddler or young kids up for sports is something they and you are wanting, the best skill they can learn is how to play smart to avoid injury.
Here are a few things to consider for keeping toddlers active and injury-free:
- Leave competition out of it. Until at least the age of 7, competition can be quite stressful for kids. If you are looking to sign your younger child up for a team sport, make sure its sole purpose is for the kids to have fun and move without any clear winners or losers.
- Get them active in more way than just one. Many people have dreams of their kiddos becoming the next big star in sports, but grooming them from a young age to play only one sport puts them a serious risk for overuse injuries. The best way to avoid these types of injuries is to let them try out many different sports, perhaps swimming in the summer and indoor soccer during winter?
- Structure of classes and the opportunity to engage with others their own age is great, but toddlers and young kids don’t need to be enrolled in something all year round. Make sure you give them a break to rest, too. One thing to consider if the class environment is something you want to stick with, is to enroll them in arts, music, or mommy and me classes.
- Free yourself of any pressure. If other moms and dads are putting their children in 5 classes, don’t feel the pressure to do the same with yours. Every child and their needs are different, and only you know your child best. Additionally, studies show that putting your toddlers in sports at a young age does not mean they are any more likely to participate in sports as they get older. So, try to relax, parents!