One way to encourage your child to get a healthy amount of exercise is to make it fun. Sports offer kids the ability to exercise while having fun, the chance to learn how to play as a team, and a good way to develop athletic skills. Despite these benefits, 70% of kids quit sports by the age of 13. Here are some reasons why that happens.
It stopped being fun.
Have you ever watched kindergartners play soccer against another team of kindergarteners? What happens is both adorable and amusing. They sit down when they get tired, and start playing with the grass. Some forget which way they are supposed to be taking the ball and might score on the wrong goal. No matter what the score is at the end of the game, all the kids have a good time and are happy.
As kids get older, the experience of playing sports changes. The focus changes from having fun to practicing skills. Coaches will critique the skills of older kids, instruct them how to do better, and expect players to make improvements. The pre-teens with the best skills often get the most time in the game (and the least time on the bench).
What was a fun activity at age 5 becomes a source of stress and pressure for a pre-teen. Those that are not among the most talented players are inclined to quit and find something else they might be good at.
It gets expensive.
The older a player gets, the more expensive that participation in a sport becomes. Parents of a pre-teen are going to need to purchase a uniform, gear, and equipment. Teams need to travel to compete against teams from other schools (or districts). Parents who want to watch the games now have extra gas costs to deal with.
Sometimes, when a activity becomes expensive, parents start pushing their pre-teen to excel in it. Perhaps the parent feels that if their pre-teen is sitting on the bench, or isn’t the star player, that the money the parent spent wasn’t worth it. This adds extra pressure on a pre-teen who might quit the team in an effort to avoid having to listen to their parents complain about their performance.
It’s the age.
Parents need to remember that pre-teens are going through a lot of changes. Their bodies are changing. School has become more challenging (and requires them to manage a lot of homework). Their peers are becoming more important to them than their family is. If your pre-teen’s friends quit playing soccer, your pre-teen might quit as well.
The kindergartner who loved playing soccer is gone. He or she has become a pre-teen who may have completely different interests than they had when they were five. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
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