I do not have children of my own so I'm going to speak from the scope of my own experiences and what I have observed over my years in the fitness industry.
If we do not help shape young kids perspective when it comes to athletics, health and fitness then we are doing them disservice. The ability of your children to have a healthy perspective begins at home. In order for them to grow up with healthy relationships with food, and view exercise as a benefit rather than a chore then they need to have a firm grounding in feeling loved, secure, and competent. They need to know what positive self-esteem looks like.
With social media being in their face all the time it is very important for kids to feel comfortable in their own skin. If children feel valued for who they are they are more likely to approach sports, health and fitness with confidence and commitment.
Ultimately you want them to be free from doubt, worry, or fear. If not then they will grow up comparing themselves to others, suffer with low self-confidence and negative self-image issues.
Another important part of self-esteem is the ownership they feel toward their sport interest.
My father was 10 times the athlete I was. I didn't get a full scholarship to a division I school, he did. I didn't play in the NFL, he did. The coolest part about my upbringing was that he supported, guided and coached me to be the best me. He wasn't concerned about me imitating him and his accomplishments. He wasn't concerned about living through me either. If children are driven to succeed by their own passion, motivation, and determination rather pressure from their parents, they will see their sports participation as a challenge to pursue instead of a threat to avoid.
Unfortunately, many young athletes do not see their sports participation as a part of their lives. It is their life. So whenever they walk onto the field of play, they are putting their lives on the line. That's scary. That sort of outlook will inevitably lead to failure, disappointment, and shame.
My sophomore year in high school I was the starting quarterback of my high school team. We lost every single game which resulted in a 0-11 season. My father showed me the same love no matter what. He taught me how to digest losing, respect the craft, and how to grab small positive nuggets from each experience. He made sure I knew my value wasn’t tied to a sports record or stats sheet.
If I am ever fortunate enough to have children of my own my goal would be to help them see that their sport should be a healthy part of their self-esteem. They will still be loved and valued no matter the result.
If children have the right perspective they will have a more positive emotional response to exercise, sports and their overall health. Instead of frustration, anger, and fear dominating their lives, positive emotions such as excitement, joy, pride, and inspiration will propel them toward their goals.
This healthy perspective will also help them react constructively to the inevitable obstacles and setbacks that they will experience as they pursue their health, fitness, and sports goals.
We have to do a better job at raising our youth.
But that starts with how we approach our own health and fitness.