May 222014 17 Responses

Force Your Kids to Play Sports

Some decisions are too important for a child to make.

Good parents do not allow their children to choose if they:

  • go to school
  • eat
  • sleep
  • go to church
  • obey

While children should be allowed to make many choices, there are some decisions which are too important for them to be trusted with.

Sports fall into this category. (See: Why You Should Never Yell at a T-Ball Umpire)

How can a 7th grader be entrusted with such a life-altering decision of whether or not they engage in athletic competition.

Too much value is found in sports for a a child’s participation to be left up to them.

A parent should force their children to play sports.

Most of the time. (See: Your Child Isn’t That Good)

Sure there are exceptions. Not every child will have the ability or talent to play sports, but those cases are far more rare than we often assume. A majority of children should be forced to play something.

The value of athletics is too great.

And this is truer today than ever.

In a society where obesity is at the core of many leading causes of death and in my own country 1/3 of all adults are obese, it is almost a parent’s moral obligation to ensure physical activity for their children.

Living in a time where narcissism is on the rise among youth, the value which sports can bring of teaching teamwork, dedication, and dealing with success and failure is vital.

Children need to be involved in sports and parents are the ones who should make the decision for them.

Notice what I haven’t said. I did not say:

We should become one of those parents trying to live our athletic dreams through our children.

We should place sports above all other things.

We should live a life out of balance because of a sports schedule.

We should pressure our children to win. (See: Three Things a Parent Should Do From the Stands)

I said we should make them play, but even as we do so, we should be the one’s making sure everyone keeps the proper perspective on the activity.

Notice another thing I did not say. I did not say a parent should force a child to play a specific sport. I do not believe they should.

A parent should require their child play something. A parent should expose their child to several activities and as the child grows, the child should control which sports he or she plays. I demand THAT you play; you choose WHAT you play.

By allowing the child to pick which activities to do, it empowers them to express themselves, learn to control their lives, and understand the consequences of decisions.

The child choosing also helps the parent from becoming too involved in the child’s play. We should be diligent in assuring the child it is there decision what they play. They do not have to pick what we love or expect. They are free within the boundaries we have given them to choose whatever they desire. (See: What Makes a Little Boy Cry)

It can be a team sport or an individual sport. It can be something they do at school or an activity through another organization. It can be a sport which has games and keeps score or simply a physical activity for which there is no clear winner or loser. It can be football or Crossfit, but it will be something.

Every child needs to learn the discipline of regular physical activity. The sooner they make it a habit within their lives the longer they will reap the benefits. The issue is too important for a parent to leave the decision to a child.

Force your kids to play. They may not like it now, but they will thank you later.

For more, see:

Which Parent Are You?

Three Ways Parents Discourage Their Children

17 Responses to Force Your Kids to Play Sports
  1. brittneydeanne Reply

    Great advice! I would also add that dance is a great active for kids who love music and can’t seem to find a “sport” that works for them. I was that kid who couldn’t catch a ball to save my life and I hated most active things…but I loved dance. It isn’t considered to be an athletic option to many parents, but it’s a great choice for some kids.

  2. Michael Newcity Reply

    Agree, but why not also “force” them to play an instrument, try out for a play, participate in a community development effort, etc.?

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      I’m okay with that. My emphasis in this article was about the need for exercise. I’m fine with making them join you on a run and community service.

    • John Hazzer Reply

      Children should not be “Forced to do anything” As of sports do keep them healthy and in shape, if they do not enjoy the sport and you are still forcing it on them the will burst like a bubble, and possibly have more anger issues, mental issues etc. ~ Dr. John Hazzer
      (Doctor in psychology)

      • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

        Children shouldn’t be forced to do anything? Obey? Go to school? Go to bed?

  3. Linda Stewart Wells Reply

    Marching band in high school was the route three of our children took. They got exercise, learned to work well with others, and benefited from the music. They began playing the instruments in middle school band. They chose which instrument they would play. Only one of our children did not end up in marching band. The band director in middle school tried to force her to play the flute when what she wanted to play was the drums. She eventually gave up band.

  4. colissa Reply

    I have one who threw up on field day in first grade…she did dance and music there after. My other has many special needs including issues with balance and coordination. Sports are absolutely the best thing for her. I stopped doing PT and OT and she has run track, bowled, 7 yrs of t-ball, and recently started running the jr mud runs. She loves the friendships made, the cheers, and has improved far more rapidly than ever in therapy! I totally agree with the benefits of joining some kind of team or group. I also think it helps with work ethic and discipline. Thanks for the article

  5. Eric Reply

    Forcing a child to play sports is dead wrong. I see absolutely no benefit what so ever. Most athletic people I encountered growing up spent most of their time bullying less athletic kids. I have been a musician all my life and teach violin and guitar lessons. I see parents unfairly push their children in music too, but at least in music, the child will not be forced to suffer physical pain and possible serious injury. Forcing a child to play sports is the equivalent of child abuse. I never played a sport, will never play a sport, and I am not obese or unhealthy. The so-called sports culture of our country is the root of a lot of problems. It stresses the importance of competition and the emphasis of being better than everyone else instead of nurturing a child in whatever they may excel in. I have never regretted not playing sports.

  6. Lin Reply

    I still to this day feel the single best thing about being an adult is that no one can force me to play sports. I hated them that much. In fact, I am more fit now than I was when sports were forced on me in my youth. I have one child who likes sports and 3 who take after me. They are all fit, happy and well-adjusted people. If I could opt them out of physical education at school, I would, and let them do what they love instead: running around in the woods and riding bikes and playing with the dog.

    And sports may keep kids out of trouble for a while (so does band, theater, scouts), many of the young people in my community who have been caught up in this current drug problem were high school athletes. Their addictions start with painkillers taken for sports injuries.

  7. AJ Reply

    You have got to be the biggest idiot in the world if you think this advice is acceptable. Quitting sports was the best thing that I ever did. I was (and still am) so much happier without sport(s) in my life. Do NOT force your kids to play! It is dead wrong!

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      AJ, how do you stay in shape?

      • AJ Reply

        Sorry if I sounded harsh in my first comment, my apologies. But I work. Haven’t gained any weight since I quit.

  8. Reply

    As long as your kids are active, then there is no need for them to play organized sports if they don’t want to. Sports should be about getting exercise while having fun. If it isn’t fun for them then it can be torture. I was terruble at sports as a kid and not only was it humiliating, it completely killed my self esteem. Other kids on the team became frustrated with me and were very mean. When my parents finally let me quit it was the best day of my life. Forcing tour children to play sports is horrible advice. There are plenty of ways to get exercise that don’t involve organized sports.

  9. Joe B Reply

    I have to say this is atrocious advice. I was forced to play competitive sports for years. It caused lifelong damage that I’m going to be treated for till the day i die. It also destroyed the parent-child relationship and ruined those lines of communication. Their decisions caused so much resentment that I rarely see my folks now 20 years later. If the choice is ever left to me, I will dump them in a nursing-home in a heartbeat.

    As a child i deferred to their judgment assuming they were older and wiser. Now as an adult, i firmly believe they shouldn’t have had children and were complete fools.

    While I don’t believe their intentions were malicious, the results of forcing sports has been devastating.

  10. Jay Bob Reply

    What fantasy world are you living in? Rare to not be able to play sports? Plenty of kids with bad eyesight. Even if it is rare so what? What about that one kid? You’re worried about physical health, how about emotional health? How about that kid who gets ostracized for not being good at sports or is too ugly. You know what it feels like to see a large group of people go out of their way to not pick you for some reason? The teacher sit there and watch? Ever had a teacher make fun of you? Bet you haven’t. You don’t need sports or exercise to be healthy. A simple walking is good enough. Even then though, why aren’t you worried about intelligence? Ever met an athlete who’s smart? I haven’t. Not to mention, 90% of all bullies and rapists are dumb jocks.

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