8 secrets to surviving kids’ sport this winter

It's a new term and a new season for sport. We think every parent needs a survival guide to get through with injury-free kids and keep up the enthusiasm through to the end (we're talking parents and kids here!).

HYDRATION

Children sometimes forget (or are too lazy!) to stay hydrated during sports practices and games, which is why preparing and stressing the importance of drinking will have benefits to your children's energy and health. Save some money on being pressured into buying store-bought drinks, and try our homemade sports drink recipe here. Take a chilly bin packed with ice packs to keep drinks cold, as this seems to have a lot more appeal for children.

WARM-UP & WARM-DOWN

Encouraging kids to warm up and cool off before and after physical activity will let their body recover properly and prevent injuries. This doesn’t have to be exhausting, but instead, make it enjoyable. Some ways to get your kids moving are through stretching, star jumps, and even dancing. Super sporty kids around the tween age are at high risk of Severs (heel pain) and Osgood-Schlatter Disease (knee pain), so make sure they are particularly careful, and keep ice on hand.

WORK ON TEAM FRIENDSHIPS

Sport is a fantastic way for your children to develop friendships and achieve goals in a group environment. It teaches kids to cooperate with others and understand that working as a team often benefits their own individual performance, which can be transferred to the classroom. Nurture their teammate friendships with weekend get-togethers or team-building trips. Your kids can never have too many friendship groups to call on (particularly when things aren't going so well at school).

GET FOOD SMART

During childhood, the bones and muscles of your children are developing quickly, which is why refuelling is vital for their health. This doesn’t mean implementing a diet but, rather, making sure your sports stars are eating a well-balanced amount of nutritious meals to keep their energy levels up. For easy ideas on how to do this, click here. It's best not to let kids eat only junk food on tournament days or sports days at school; rather, fill their lunch boxes up with a variety of snack foods they love, and treat them with something small from the tuck shop.

MIX IT UP

Allowing your child to pick and choose which sports they want to play will have benefits to their wellbeing and success in the long run. At young ages, encouraging your children's involvement in a range of sports is a great way for them to understand what they enjoy and dislike, as well as learn different skills that will subconsciously be used during other physical activity. For most kids, an overdose of one sport will inevitably lead to boredom kicking in, even when they do show great talent.

GOOD SPORTS

Although some children are naturally "good sports", many are still learning what this concept means. It often takes time and encouragement for children to learn that winning and losing doesn’t come down to the end result but, rather, their attitude and reaction to the result. Here are some great ways to endorse sportsmanship to your chiildren.

SUPER-PARENT SIDELINE KIT

During sports season, you never know when you’ll be called upon for a first aid kit, towel, or umbrella. Packing a bag full of survival tools for both you and your children will become useful at some point, and trust me, you’ll be thanking yourself for bringing that extra jacket in the back of the car. We suggest:

  • Small chilly bin (hard or soft) filled with ice packs to keep drinks cold and to use on bumps and sprains.
  • Lunch box full of high-energy snacks ready for an energy meltdown. Even the fittest kids fall into a low ebb if they've had a late night, have a cold coming on, or have been sick the week before.
  • First-aid kit (there should be one in the car anyway, so this will be easy).
  • Towels for use after the game, but also for little muddy bodies to sit on during the car journey home.
  • Umbrellas are good for rain or shine.
  • Spare shoes in case sports boots are totally wet and muddy and you plan a stop somewhere for lunch on the way home.
  • Rugs to keep kids warm if they are a sub or nursing an injury, and to keep parents toasty on the sidelines (sleeping bags are great, too, as they have a slightly water-resistant outer).

REMEMBER TO HAVE FUN

Most importantly, children should always be having fun while playing sports. Being a positive role model and supporting your child no matter will reassure your kids you are proud of their efforts and skill. Remember, don't overanalyse the game afterward, as kids will soon dread that time with you if they feel their fun time on the weekend is always followed with a gruelling sports critique! Encouraging an open and enthusiastic attitude towards sport not only benefits your children's health and wellbeing, but also serves as an opportunity to bond as a family.

By Finn Jelicich
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