Do your kids play sport so you don’t feel guilty?

I have a running joke that I encourage my children to play ‘early retirement plan’ sports – tennis or golf. For other Aussie parents, it seems the driver behind getting their kids into sport has more to do with guilt. A new study has revealed some parents are afraid it may reflect poorly on them if their kids aren’t active.

Australia is a sporting nation – one in two kids swim regularly, and more than one million young Aussies play our most popular sport – soccer. Cycling, athletics and dancing are also very popular. But just why some parents get their kids involved in sport may surprise you.

The Australian Sports Commission recently looked into the sporting habits of our youngest wannabe athletes, and found that almost all parents can see their children’s health and social skills benefit from being involved in sport.

ASC Chief Executive Simon Hollingsworth says, “It’s pleasing this study shows that parents understand the link between sport and the positive role it can play in their children’s health and wellbeing.”

While this appears to be the main reason parents get their kids into sport, the study did find that some parents are more concerned about how it may reflect on them if their child is inactive.

While the stern judgement of fellow parents may give some mums and dads the extra encouragement needed to get their kids away from screens and onto sporting fields, it seems school is the greatest source of sporting inspiration.

“This finding shows the benefit to sports that create opportunities for children to try them out in the school yard,” Mr Hollingsworth says.

“Many of our National Sporting Organisations are already doing this through the recently launched Sporting Schools program and it is expected sports will pick up many new recruits with the exposure they get through Sporting Schools.”

Previous studies have shown that active kids turn into active adults, with the Australia government recommending that children should take part in at least an hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day.

Better Health lists a few ways kids can be encouraged to get active:

  • Go on family outings that will give the kids a chance to get active – a hit of cricket on the beach, or a game of hide and seek at the park.
  • If you’re going to the shop, walk rather than drive. The kids can ride their bikes or scooters.
  • If your kids participate in sport, make sure you go along and encourage them – kids love to please their parents!
  • Give your kids time limits on electronic devices so they’re not sitting for large amounts of time.
  • Monkey see, monkey do – so lead by example. If your kids see you being active, it’s likely they will be too.

If you want some ideas on how to get your little ones more active, have a look at our previous posts on active play.

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