"As a parent, how do you encourage and reinforce the positive aspects of youth sports?"
I was not very athletic growing up. I liked dance lessons and cheerleading, but put a ball in my hand, and I was pretty useless. However, knowing how much sports mean to little boys, we have encouraged our boys to join in. Thankfully, around here we have both Upward Soccer and Upward Basketball. This starts our kids out with a positive introduction to both sports where they have the chance to learn basic skills in a Christian environment. I also really like that the Upward program insists on giving each child equal playing time. That way if the boys happen to inherit my lack of skillz, they still get to play! This is a boost to ANY child's self-confidence!
In the past month, both my sons have started taking TaeKwonDo as well, and are really enjoying it. It, too, teaches about control and respect, and they have to rely on their individual skills and confidence to succeed.
Another way that we have encouraged Isaac in sports is perseverance. In baseball, he struggled batting at first. We had several talks about how we didn't want him to succeed for US, but that we wanted him to keep trying for himself to see that he could do it! I am sure that if we had said it was okay for him to quit baseball mid-season, he would have done it. But we insisted that he carry through with the commitment he had made to his team. Though he didn't end up the star player by the end of the season, he did learn much about the sport and about his ability to take constructive criticism from others and work on improving his playing abilities.
Thanks to Liberty Mutual's Responsible Sports program, which can be found at www.responsiblesports.com, for encouraging kids to move and to be good sports!