Parents often wonder how they can encourage their young daughters to become active in sports and fitness activities. With all of the recent attention to the substantial benefits derived from participation in sports, moms and dads are more eager than ever to assure that their daughters are involved. But how do you encourage your daughter to commit to becoming active, especially if their minds and/or bodies are less than willing and the excuses prolific?
Parents also face a contrasting situation when they have daughters who could (and try to) spend most if not all of their waking moments playing sports. Such an addiction oftentimes leaves parents complaining that they miss out on quality time with their daughters. As one parent recently said to me, “the carpools back and forth hardly allow me that bonding time I used to have with her when she was little.”
What is a parent to do? Interestingly, both situations call for a common plan of action: Build in together time that includes the driveway, backyard, gym, park, pool, etc. In other words, GO ENJOY WITH HER. For the apathetic daughter, you may be able to make the experience pleasant enough that she no longer dreads the activity. For the hooked athlete, you will appreciate the quality time.
So after polling parents who have endured both situations and throwing in a few of my own, I present a recommended list of ways to promote or join in the sports and fitness fun:
1) Set aside a regular time when you can grab the basketball, softball, Frisbee, or badminton racquets and head out to the driveway or backyard to “play around.” It is important that you have sports equipment handy so when the time permits and the mood hits, it is ready for the taking.
2) Join a parent-daughter community league such as bowling, volleyball, or soccer. If these leagues are not available in your area, organize a group of your daughter’s friends and their parents to meet at the gym or local park on a regular basis to play. You can even plan for a different sport each time you meet.
3) Head to your local indoor or outdoor pool to splash around, throw a ball, or race with noodles.
4) Learn a sport together. Make it a family activity. You can rent a video that provides an introduction to the sport or take lessons. But either way, you always have that golden time to practice together.
5) Take your daughter on a family outing to a women’s high school, collegiate or professional game. Besides supporting other athletic girls, observing their passion, and taking in the fundamentals and strategy of the game, its fun.
6) Tune into women’s sports on TV together. Pick teams the family can rally around and plan family time to sit around the TV to watch. Offering decent, healthy munchies always makes for a great, added incentive. And watching can fuel the inspiration to play.
7) Sign up to coach or manage one of your daughter’s sports teams. If your daughter lacks confidence or motivation to join a sports team, your offering to become a part of the team might just provide that needed incentive. If her life is already dominated by team play, capture that lost family time by becoming involved in a valued way.
8) Incorporate sports and/or fitness in your family vacation plans. Enjoy that hike or bike that culminates in a spectacular waterfall or other scenic pleasure, a reward worthy of the effort. Upon returning home, your normally sedentary daughter may just miss the feeling of heart-healthy exhilaration and find a way to make it a more regular part of her life. Your athletic daughter will appreciate a challenge taken together.
Hope these ideas become reality or at the very least, provoke creative thought about alternatives.