By Raising Children Network
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Trying lots of different activities and sports – and even playing more than one sport at a time – helps children sort out what they like and are good at. Like most things, if children do well at sports or a particular activity, they’re more likely to stay interested.

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If you introduce new games or skills slowly and gently, children will be more able to learn the skills, less likely to get hurt, and will become more confident about trying new activities.

Most primary school children need plenty of unstructured activity such as running and chasing and playground games, in addition to organised sports.

At around five, children are often keen to help with physically engaging household tasks such as gardening or washing the car – something that most parents are equally keen to encourage!

Many children are ready for organised sport by eight years of age.This doesn't mean a full-speed cricket game with a hard cricket ball, though. Try starting with something softer, like a tennis ball, which will help your child develop skills without getting hurt or losing confidence. You can also get them interested earlier through play.

School-age kids will still need your help to develop physical skills and to learn how to cope with the emotions of winning and losing.

If your child becomes frustrated, it might be a good idea to suggest a change of activity so that he doesn't lose interest in participating in sport.

Different kids excel at and enjoy different activities, so it’s good for your child to try a variety of sports, both team and individual, and to be involved in more than one sport at a time.

Other kids will prefer non-sport activities and it is important they have hobbies that will keep them active as they get older.

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  • Last Reviewed 11-05-2006
  • Gunner, K.B., Atkinson, P.M., Nichols, J., & Eissa, M.A. (2005). Health promotion strategies to encourage physical activity in infants, toddlers and preschoolers. Journal of Pediatric Health Care, 19, 253-258.