I quit.’’ A phrase that a child or young adult is likely to utter in front of a parent when it comes to continuing with the sport they are in. While never delightful for a parent to hear these words, there are multiple reasons that might have led to the child trying to opt out of athletics. For a parent, keeping kids healthy and active is one of the most important parts of parenting, and also one of the more challenging ones.

Sports help keep children physically fit, mentally active and emotionally strong. Above all, sports teach how to remain humble in victory and graceful in defeat, thus helping shape them into a mature and productive part of society. In today’s digital world, sports are more necessary than ever, to help kids maintain a  healthy balance between the time spent on studying, various devices, and physical activity.

So if you too are a parent that has faced the the dilemma of a demotivated child, read on to find out how to address the situation and groom kids into determined stars.

What motivates kids to play sports?

Children have a spontaneous motivation to watch cartoons, play video games and even poking around where they really shouldn’t be. It’s about channeling their vast energy reserves towards positive activities. Well, what motivates them to play sports in the first place? These include a couple of reasons, with nourishment for the mind and body.

Making new friends

Kids generally love to be introduced to their age fellows, especially when it is done in a care-free environment. These inquisitive minds when together love to explore new things and try different ideas in a fearless manner. Play areas provide the breeding ground for all these activities.

A chance to spend carefree time

One thing a child loves the most is to stray away from home to unyoke themselves from the restrictions that come with confined spaces within the home. Unlike other activities, athletics provide just that without taking a toll on children’s productivity in other areas.

The excitement of being part of a team

We’ve all been there. Watching our favourite players on TV right from the outset left us wanting to look just like them. It could only be done by wearing the same uniform and behaving just like our national heroes. This remains one of the major riveting factors motivating children to flock to grounds.

Incentives for parents to keep their children motivated to play

There Sports are a great way to launch kids into the realm of passion, hard work, courage and above all, triumph and defeat. It makes children cognisant about the need to win at all costs, something that goes a long way towards leading a successful life amidst tough competition everywhere.

Similarly, competitive games impart in teen athletes the important lesson of remaining headstrong in defeat. This is partly achieved by two sub-traits that come with playing sports: emotional intelligence and anger management. Even if players lock their horns during the match and the game gets really tough, they will still be shaking each other’s hand towards the end of it.

The biggest incentive for parents to motivate their offspring to play sports should be the additional value that sports bring with it. Apart from the aforementioned benefits, sports are a fantastic way to help your child grow both mentally and physically. These two benefits confirm sports’ role as a catalyst in student’s productivity at home and at school.

Research suggests that children who participate in competitive activities tend to get better grades at school and exhibit better overall behavior. Against this backdrop, no parent would want to let their child quit so easily.

Why do children quit sports?

In their early and mid-adolescent years, children are quite volatile in their behaviour. They can grow nonchalant about the most unexpected of things. Sports are no exception. Even if your young athlete is performing well in sports and visibly enjoys his or her time with their team, don’t be surprised if one day they come to you and ask for withdrawal from the school team. At that moment, don’t panic; you should have proper knowledge of why kids might want to quit sports so that you are better equipped to counsel them. Here is a list of probable reasons why children can decide to quit sports:

Unrealistic expectations from coaches and parents

This tops the list. The two-pronged pressure from parents and the coach on a young mind to win at all costs gradually erodes the youngster’s interest in the game.

‘I am not good enough’

When a child wants to quit sports due to this reason, alarm bells must be rung. Such sentiments can develop from a lack of encouragement from parents, coaches, and teammates. In such cases, it can be hard to restore the kid’s confidence.

Bullying

This has to be the most disturbing of reasons behind your kid’s decision to quit. Research has shown that one in six Australian students are bullied every week and is three times more likely to develop depressive illnesses. Remember one thing: bullying is most likely to occur during early and mid-adolescent years. If your child comes up with a sudden announcement to quit, you would do well to back them up to get them to interact with their mates and find the possible elements who might be having a negative effect on him/her.

Time constraints

Sometimes, the child simply doesn’t have enough time to play sports. They are doing one of these three things at any given point in time: preparing for exams, giving exams and have just been finished giving exams. As a parent, you must take it up in your hands to attract them towards field games.

A shift in interests during adolescence

Adolescent age marks a visible shift in children’s overall behaviour due to rapidly occurring physical and hormonal changes. One of the casualities of this episode might well be sports. Your kid might want to drop out of youth sports due to other recreational pursuits such as reading, video-gaming, and owning computers and smartphones. In worst cases, juvenile students can find a bad company at the school where they can be lured towards drugs and substances, making it difficult for them to continue with sports.

What can you do as the parent of a young athlete?

The art of stepping in when needed has to be mastered by parents, by being extra careful and attentive when it comes to motivating children about resuming sports. In some cases, you would not be able to propel them back to the grounds and you might have to accept their viewpoint. In any case, you should be doing the following things whoever you are faced with such a scenario:

Be proactive

Experts recommend preventing the dilemma from transpiring in the first place. This is a proactive approach that ensures two things: your child’s commitment to their team and their confidence that they do enjoy the backing of their parents in worst case scenarios. I short, empower your kid to report unfortunate incidents during sports and not let them conceal such cases out of fear.

Find out the reasons your child wants to quit

The reasons behind your kid’s decision to quit have been listed above and their knowledge is absolutely essential for parents to monitor changes in their child’s behaviour so as to step in in a timely manner. Upon finding out that your kid is disturbed, choose a suitable time and place that is comfortable to your kid and ask them the reasons behind the apparent change in their attitude. This approach too is preventive.

Take active steps to correct the difficulties identified

This means speaking to the school coach or instructor. While motivating young adults, you should assess how intolerable the situation has been to him or her and whether the problems can be worked out. In all but the most severe cases, you can point out that a commitment has been made, and you can encourage your youngster to finish the season. In severe cases, however, the decision to quit may be in the best interest of your child’s well-being.

It’s always hard to let kids make their own choices when we don’t agree with them. By giving them all the confidence they need to report bad incidents both on and off the pitch, you will be making sure that your youngster remains open to your honest and polite inquiries. This will inevitably be one big stride towards their bright future. 

As a parent, sometimes dealing with such issues becomes difficult and it’s advisable to consult a mental health professional. Find the nearest psychologist and book an available appointment through HealthEngine with a qualified practitioner.