1. Join the Club!

    Is your child spending too much time in front of screens, alone and sedentary? Want to get them involved in some healthy and stimulating activities with other kids? Joining a club or team may be the answer. Group activities help kids develop teamwork and leadership skills, and let them meet friends with similar interests. But with such a wide range of activities out there, it can take some work to determine what club or team is right for your child. These tips can help.  

    First, start by collecting all the information you can about clubs and teams from various sources, like your child’s school, local library, and community organizations. Then, show your child all the brochures and flyers and ask them what looks good. Don’t rush them into a decision, or put pressure on them based on what you or your other children are interested in. There are lots and lots of options out there, all with their own pros and cons, and one of them is the right fit for your child.

    If a certain activity jumps out at them, go with it. If they’re not so sure, help them pick an activity based on what kinds of skills it develops, and what values it enforces. Arts groups, like a marching band or theater production, help kids develop creative and collaborative skills. Scouting gives kids the opportunity to experience the great outdoors and serve their community. Political clubs, student government, and debate teams foster public speaking skills, quick thinking, and competitive instincts. Sports teams keep kids physically healthy and working together. 

    Whatever you come up with, talk through various options with your child over the course of a few days. When you’re in the deciding stage, it might be a good idea to reach out and meet the coaches and leaders of these organizations. A great coach or leader can be a major selling point to join one team or club over another, and can have a powerful effect on your child’s enthusiasm for the activity.  

    Many groups and activities, especially sports teams, require a tryout of some kind, and unfortunately not every kid is going to make the cut. What do you do if your child is rejected from something they really want to do? Sometimes just listening and acknowledging their frustration is enough. But also be sure to ask them what they want to do now. If they don’t have any ideas, try to help them identify what they liked so much about the team or group that didn’t accept them. Chances are you and your child can find another sport or activity with similarly appealing qualities.

    Once your child finds a club or team they enjoy being a part of, keep tabs on their progress, and praise them for achievements they earn and skills they acquire. Most clubs and teams have opportunities for parents to get involved, and if you can spare the time, this sort of volunteering can be a valuable experience. Just make sure to check with your child first – some kids get embarrassed to have their parent hovering around all the time.

    They probably won’t mind it so much, though, when you’re applauding their performance in a play or cheering after they make a 3-pointer. It may not happen immediately, but sooner or later your child will thank you for encouraging them to join.