Is your child scared of meeting new people or of speaking out in a group? How can you stop them worrying about what other people think? Which sports could help them?
A lack of confidence, hang-ups, and sometimes even the behaviour of those around them can fuel this shyness.
But there's nothing quite like a sports activity for making new friends!
In reality, any sport! Seriously!
From toddler activities to casual sport and full-on competitions, sport will develop your child's self-confidence whether they're 4 or 14.
We bet there's a sport they'll be interested in! Which team sport should you choose? Any. The only thing that matters is that your child enjoys it. If your child is very young, you can pass on the joy of physical activity to them by playing sports as a family.
To find the right sport for your child or teen outside the home, it's more a question of personality.
Sharing a passion helps them to integrate into a group. That's why team sports are so good for shy kids. Within the team, each person can be themselves and play to their strengths, without hiding. Your child will learn what they can bring to the group, find their place within it, and build new friendships. If they fear failure, the blame for any defeat won't rest solely on their shoulders. And if they win, it'll bolster their confidence and leave them with unforgettable memories.
When we think of team sports, we often think first of football. But there are so many other alternatives. Is your child hung up about how tall they are? Then maybe they should try basketball. Does your child or teenager think they're too weedy? Why not try handball or rugby to bulk up their muscles? Do they love moving and jumping? Are they sharp and agile? Then volleyball is perfect for them. Are creativity and flexibility more their thing? Then go for an artistic sport: artistic swimming, gymnastics, skating, etc. And if they're not a fan of ball sports, why not try something more original like rowing, roller derby, water polo or flying discs?
Martial arts and other combat sports are all about respect. They teach kids to defend themselves and defeat their opponents fairly. They build physical power, mental strength, and balance. If your child feels confident in their body, they'll be confident in their mind too.
Combat sports also teach kids to observe others, to sense them, to recognise their strengths and weaknesses, and therefore to adopt the best strategy in a difficult situation. It doesn't matter which martial art they choose. It's the state of mind that counts. From judo to karate, aikido and jiu-jitsu, these sports will help your child or teenager to face every stage of life more confidently.
As a fun, stress-busting activity, yoga can help shy kids to understand and control their feelings. Through age-appropriate breathing exercises and fun sequences, your child will learn to relax. They'll be able to focus fully on themselves, exploring ways to observe and recognise their emotions, anticipate them and control them. Yoga also increases physical stability, balance, strength and flexibility.
And we all know how important appearance is for kids' and teens' self-confidence.
Plus, yoga is great for parents too ;).
If your child has a real talent, why not harness it? Certain individual sports can be great alternatives if they don't really like physical contact.
If your teen has amazing endurance, competing in cross-country is perfect for them. Running helps to relieve stress by getting you moving. If they have a talent for skating, learning some tricks and skills will fuel their self-esteem. Doing the splits or a backflip is sure to win an admiring "oooo" from the crowd. During the teen years, performing at a high level can make a world of difference, provided you keep your feet on the ground.
If they're not interested in sport, don't try to force them. Sport should always be fun. So which extracurricular activity should they do? There's a very long list to choose from. If "self-confidence" is the top priority, amateur dramatics springs to mind. Joining a theatre troupe is sure to build their confidence.
The key is to find something they're really interested in.
Has your shy child or teen decided to sign up for a sport? All that remains is to get them their first few bits of specialist sports equipment. It's worth noting that, sometimes, equipment will be included in the cost of joining a club.
One last tip: always listen to their needs. Encourage them. Share in their joy. Acknowledge their worries. And if there are any problems, don't hesitate to have a chat with their coach. Sport should always be fun!
How about you? How has sport helped your shy child?