BRANFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – 7-year-old Bryce Levchuk excels at baseball and he’s also trying flag football in the fall. “He’s very hands on. He likes to tackle, he likes to run,” says his dad, Brian Levchuk of Branford.
But Sasha Perkins, who is 11, learned that traditional sports just aren’t her thing. “I did soccer when I was young, I did basketball when I was younger. I just didn’t like it, it wasn’t for me,” she says.
Renowned author and pediatric psychologist Anthony Rao says sports can be important, but one size doesn’t fit all. He advises parents to avoid over-investing financially or emotionally. “What you’re doing is killing the motivation of your kid – it’s now about you,” he says.
Expose young kids to different options but, as they get older, step aside a bit. “Make sure they have privacy and time to be at the sport by themselves, time with their teammates afterwards, just don’t go in and dominate it,” says Rao.
And, if you’re child wants to drop a sport, do some exploring. “You have to ask the reason, ‘Is there something going on we should have a discussion about?'” Rao advises. “But when kids are older, around high school, it’s a time when their identity is forming. personalities change. I tell parents, ‘Don’t be surprised if your kid says, I don’t want to do it anymore.'”
Again, give them space and urge them to explore another sport, perhaps an individual one like tennis or golf.
“Me and my friend we want to own a dance studio when we’re older,” says Sasha, who discovered she loves to dance.
And, Bryce’s dad says he’ll follow his son’s lead, but he hopes the sports stick because they teach Bryce valuable lessons. “It gives him the knowledge and respect for coaches and other players and it calms him down,” he says.
Rao advises parents to not just celebrate the trophies. Reward kids for effort and persistence. It’s a lesson that will help them all throughout their lives.
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