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Raising Fit Kids: Healthy Nurtition, Exercise, and Weight

  This content is selected and controlled by WebMD's editorial staff in collaboration with Sanford Health Systems.

Choosing the Right Sport for Your Child continued...

Match sports activities to your child's ability. This can get more difficult the older kids get. "A lot of sports programs are designed to develop the elite kids," says Bergeron. "More and more attention is focused on the best athletes. Meanwhile, the average kids who aren't on the starting lineup may get left behind."

And that can take a toll on teen self-confidence. "Many end up dropping out of sports in high school," Bergeron tells WebMD.

Kids who aren't star athletes may feel more at home on a church, YMCA, or community center team, Anderson says. They may get more playing time and be more successful.

Get Kids Moving at Every Age

It's never too late to get your child interested in moving. Here are a few simple tips to help your child build athletic self-confidence no matter his age.

Younger kids

  • Share your skills. "Young kids like to practice motor skills," Anderson says. So patiently teach them how to play catch, kick a ball, swing a bat, ride a bike, skate, or swim.
  • Shoo them outside. "Supervised outdoor time is very important," says Anderson. Spending time outdoors gives kids unstructured time to play and have fun.

School-age kids

  • Sign them up for kids' sports teams. "Expose children to a variety of activities and let them find the ones that are most fun for them," Martin says.
  • Support, don't push. Show up for events to watch your child play -- "not to live out your athletic dreams through your child," Martin says. "You don't want to be one of those hardcore parents you seeing yelling at the refs." Instead, all you have to do is sit back, relax, visit with the other parents, and cheer your child on.

Older kids

  • Try a sports enhancement program. "These programs help young athletes develop strength, speed, and agility," Martin says.
  • Consider a no-cut team. A growing trend for middle and high schools is to have a no-cut policy for kids' sports teams. On these teams, "any kid who wants to be there to practice and participate is in," says Bergeron. Ask about them at your child's school.

By working with your child to build his physical skills and add to his positive kids' sports experiences, you'll help him discover the joys of physical activity -- and develop healthy habits to last a lifetime.


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