There's more to life than computers, game systems and Wii, and the earlier children learn this, the healthier and more physically active they will be.
Not every sport has to be competitive, just as not every child is "into" baseball, football, basketball or even soccer. Children should have the opportunity to try different physical activities in order to choose the one that is the right "fit" for them.
There are many non-traditional "sports" that children have found personally satisfying and even enjoyable; most are not highly competitive or full-contact activities, and all have withstood the test of time. In many of these, children can set their own goals and chart their own improvement.
- Bowling. Children enjoy bowling. Yes, they may choose to bowl on teams as they get older, which is great for sportsmanship, but it's also one of those sports that allows for personal growth and development. Start children off with a plastic bowling set, then move on to the lanes to give them the "bumper bowling" experience. Most bowling alleys accommodate children and some make it even more fun with bowling parties, camps, glow bowling and other engaging activities. It's not expensive and you don't even have to buy a ball for your child, since lane costs include shoe and ball rental.
- Archery. "The Hunger Games" has brought archery back into the foreground. Children have enjoyed this sport for years, whether with a long bow, compound bow or crossbow. And it does not have to include the competitive or hunting aspect. My children stopped taking archery lessons when they started promoting hunting. If we would have purchased our own bows, we could have continued at any number of area sites to keep their interest and improve upon their skills. Bows and equipment may be purchased at stores or online. Best yet, the cost is quite reasonable and lessons are also available at various locations.
- Swimming. This sport has been a favorite for as long as children and water have existed. The younger your child is when first exposed to water and swimming, the easier the adjustment is for them. This comes from an adult who learned to swim (with difficulty) in her thirties! Swimming is personal and can eventually be a team activity or competitive, as your child desires. But when they start, swimming lessons and as much practice as possible makes the experience more fun and enjoyable. Family swimming at area pools is very reasonable and most facilities even offer passes, and the exercise is beneficial to adults and children.
- Badminton. Many adults have fond memories of playing badminton when they were young. Why did we ever stop? Children love to bat the birdie, and the equipment costs are negligible. You may have to spring for a few bags of birdies since they do seem to "fly away," but it's well worth it. And besides, once children master the basics, they may even want to try tennis as they get older.
- Bike riding. This is also a sports activity and kids don't have to be in motocross or mountain biking to enjoy it. From the time the training wheels come off the two-wheelers, it's freedom on the road! There is nothing more enjoyable than biking the many trails around town, whether the Pittman Wash, mountain trails or cultured park trails in your neighborhood. Best yet: it gets everyone off the couch, away from the Wii and moving!