Are you looking for a way to encourage your little ones to stay active and spend more time with friends? Sports can be a great way to get them out and social, but for children with different abilities, sports can be intimidating. Check out these six tips to help encourage your child to get out there and play!

Ask about team options

There are many options when it comes to team sports, including teams designed for children with different abilities. Check with your local fitness centers to see what they offer. If they do not have specific teams, they may have coaches experienced in coaching children with different abilities. If these options are not available, try looking into nationwide organizations, such as the Special Olympics or the Paralympics.

Pick the right sport

Determining which sport is right for your child can be difficult. Consider the level of intensity and level of physical contact most appropriate for your child. Certain sports also require more communication between players than others do. If you believe your child may work better competing individually, but you still want a team element, check out sports such as biking, track, swimming, horseback riding, gymnastics, or martial arts.

Check out the required uniforms and equipment

Some sports require uniforms and special equipment, such as helmets and shin guards. If your child is uncomfortable with tight clothing or visibility-impairing headgear, consider a sport with a lighter uniform or ask the coach if equipment accommodations can safely be made for your child.

Scout out the location

If the team meets in a public, easy-to-access location, visit beforehand to snap a few pictures. While there, search for any potential challenges your child may encounter, such as loud noises or bright lights. Show the pictures to your child and talk about potential challenges so they can begin to familiarize themselves with the location. If you are unable to visit the location, search the website for pictures.

Talk to the coach

The team coach may need help understanding how to best coach your child. Communicate with them on both what your child excels at and what they struggle with, so they can better know how to help.

Teach your child sports etiquette

To prepare your child for practice, talk to them about the importance of taking turns and playing as a team, as well as how to act when they win or lose. If this is your child’s first time talking about these concepts, they may benefit from playing a practice game in the yard or drawing a diagram.

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