By Sylvia Cochran – Christian Parenting

Extracurricular sports activities are a common sight these days. Kids are enrolled in soccer teams, water polo leagues and gymnastics. The more nimble and able to play the sport the child is, the more expensive additional classes, hardware and availability of competitions becomes.

In the church, there is now a bit of a schism between parents who encourage participation in extracurricular sports activities and those who see the mark of the devil (ok, so perhaps that’s a bit of hyperbole) on these time-consuming and expensive leagues. Is it possible to regain your sanity and have your kids involved in sports? Yes!

  • Sign them up for the right reasons. If you are trying to resurrect your failed cheerleading career through your pint-sized gymnast, you are asking for trouble. (The same is true when dad is vicariously living through junior on the football field.) Sports are supposed to be healthy methods of having fun. If the kids are not having fun, you’re not doing it right. Either the child is participating in the wrong type of sport, or there is too much pressure for healthy fun to occur.
  • Encourage the friendships. Take the opportunities for the team parties and post-game snacks seriously. Do not live on such a tight schedule that your child cannot participate. Rather, plan on being there at least 30 minutes after the end of practice to eat, hang out with friends or help clean up. Encourage your child to have friendships with other athletes who are participating in the sport.
  • Pick a sport and stick with it. When the kids are little, you will have to try out several sports before you find the one that’s it. Our daughter had to test-drive gymnastics, swimming, tennis, ballet and ice-skating before realizing that her gifts, skills and interest really lay with gymnastics. During the early exploration period, keep it to one sport per season for your sanity and to keep the driving and hectic hassle to a minimum.
  • Beware the peer pressure. I’m talking about parental peer pressure here. While the kids are having fun on the soccer field, the moms are discussing the latest soccer shoes, the optional soccer camps over the summer and of course the coach on the other team who just seems to be so much better. Do not get sucked into the vortex of spending money you do not have on activities your schedule cannot accommodate. Remember that you are there because you want your child to have fun learning a sport, learning good sportsmanship and making good friends in the process. You are not there to crank out the next Beckenbauer. Yet peer pressure sneaks up on you. Be on the lookout!

It should go without saying that you do not overbook yourself or put games and practices ahead of Sunday morning or midweek services.

Sylvia Cochran

Sylvia is a seasoned freelance writer, born and raised in Germany. Having been exposed to a variety of religions and traditions due to travel and study, Sylvia has been a student of the Bible for more than ten years, and has for the last four years taught in small groups about Biblical principles, practical Christianity, Christian parenting, as well as the spiritual use of money. Sylvia also provides Free Online Christian Parenting Courses at Suite 101 CochranChristian ParentingParenting,SportsParenting and Family Fun Activities for Kids