Guest Post: Katie of Pick Any Two, on Toddlers in Sports


photo credit: OKIMG_3902 via photopin (license)
photo credit: OKIMG_3902 via photopin (license)

By giving up, Katie of Pick Any Two blog gained so much.

guest postKatie’s blog speaks to the concession that a mom can do anything – but not everything. Katie found something on Pinterest (I guess you can do more than recipes and Lizzie O’Leary photos on there) that became a philosophy.

Katie explains it like this:

Pick Any Two: Giving up the “have it all” mentality and instead making choices without apology or guilt. I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling better already.

Today, Katie’s here to tell why she’s signing her toddler up for sports.

Give her a warm welcome on the CD. Then go check out Pick Any Two. On subjects from body image to parenting, she inspires thought and engagement in her comment posts. Hers is what you’d like your own blog and tribe to look like.

And check out her Feel Good Friday posts. Right after you check in on Go Ask Daddy. Well, even before. Katie’s talented, compassionate and a friend to this blog.

photo credit: Stormtrooper via photopin (license)
photo credit: Stormtrooper via photopin (license)

Why I’m Signing My Toddler Up for Sports

By Katie McLaughlin of Pick Any Two

“Startin’ him a little young, don’t you think?”

“Are you gunning for an athletic scholarship in a few years?”

“What, do you think he’s the next Pelé or something?”

Those are the general reactions I get when I tell people I signed my 2.5-year-old up for soccer this spring.

They think I’m either delusional—believing my son to be some kind of athletic prodigy who should be groomed for the big leagues right away—or crazy competitive, obsessed with watching my son win from the sidelines.

But I don’t think I’m either of those.

photo credit: P1210682 via photopin (license)
photo credit: P1210682 via photopin (license)

Do I believe a toddler can grasp the rules of an organized sports game? Nope.

Do I think a preschooler has the gross motor skills to dribble a ball past a defender and intentionally score a goal? No way.

Do I want my 2.5-year-old absorbed in concepts of winning and losing? Absolutely not!

For me, it’s definitely not about competition, giving him some kind of leg up in the sports world, or even the fundamentals of the game itself.

Here’s why I’m still signing him up for a preschool sports league.

Because Being Active is Fun

We live in a society where people pay big bucks to go to special, shiny buildings and use special, shiny machines to exercise—usually grumbling about it the whole time.  Many of us adults have lost touch with what it means to have fun while staying fit.

But kids? They get it. To see a child running, tumbling, kicking, and throwing—and getting totally out of breath in the process—is to witness pure joy. For them, moving their bodies is a gift, not a punishment.

I want my son to maintain that attitude long after he’s grown, so I’m nurturing it now.

Because We’ll Bond on the Field

Toddler and preschool sports almost always require the participation of a parent or caregiver—meaning when my son’s out there kicking that ball around, my husband and I will be right there with him.

In that sense, signing him up for sports—or really any organized activity—is as much about making memories with him as it is about playing the game.

photo credit: P1210682 via photopin (license)
photo credit: P1210682 via photopin (license)

I want to tell stories about that time he punted the ball so hard it went the whole way across the field. I want to frame a candid photo of us kicking it back and forth. I want to do this together.

Because it Eases Kids into Social Play

Toddlers and preschoolers are just starting to transition out of side-by-side play, which is when they play next to each other but still separately.

Sports are a great opportunity to practice the next natural steps: taking turns, sharing, and playing together—all skills that are important once you enter school and other more structured environments.

Because We’re Not Tied to It

I don’t think my toddler is old enough to need a lesson on quitting and the importance of “sticking with it.”

So if it turns out he hates soccer, or any other activity I sign him up for, I’m not going to force the issue. Instead, I’ll just look for alternatives that offer the same benefits—physical activity, parent-child bonding, and social interaction—but that are more suited to his current style.

In some ways, that’s what parenting is all about, don’t you think? Nurturing our kids’ growth and development in ways that honor their unique selves.

For us, that means a preschool soccer league. Now pass me the ball, would ya?

Do you think toddlers and preschoolers can benefit from playing sports?

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47 Replies to “Guest Post: Katie of Pick Any Two, on Toddlers in Sports”

  1. We did the same here with my girls and soccer by signing them up at a young age. My older daughter took to it, but our younger didn’t. So like you I just wanted them to have fun and went with their lead on this.

  2. I think it’s great. It will strengthen his legs, it will get him into the outdoors and that is never a bad thing. Good for you Mom 🙂

      1. LOL maybe we should start teaching them as soon as they can stand…they tend to do a lot of dribbling when they’re babies 😉

  3. We’ve had our daughter try soccer. Mostly, we did it as a way for her to burn off energy on the weekends as well as start to understand how to follow directions. But, now that she’s getting closer to three, I think we’re going to give dance and tumbling a shot, which I think she might have more of a incline toward (based on her tumbling antics at home).

    1. That’s the beauty of it! You can try all different types of active activities for them and see what’s the best fit.

  4. We’re trying to get our kids involved in sports or at least a gymnastics class. No – my kids aren’t going to be world-class gymnasts or athletes. I just want to wear them out for bedtime! 😀

  5. Absolutely brilliant. Love that parents need to be involved on the pitch as well so I look at this as a win/win for all. My two are now 19 and 21. They were both involved in sports from an early age and not only did they have fun (and fall exhausted into bed at night) I made some wonderful friends along the way. Am jealous that you are just starting out. Enjoy!

      1. When things got tense with my older girls’ teams, it always did my heart good to watch the littles play on a Saturday morning, to remind me of where it all starts.

  6. I’m not much of a sports fan, but I’m signing my three year old up for s soccer team this spring too. Why? Because he’s loved balls since forever. We talk about which go in nets, which get hit, and which get kicked. His favorite outing is to the ball store. This is what he loves. I expect it to be hilarious because I imagine trying to teach three year olds to play a ball game is like herding cats, but that’ll be my enjoyment. Plus, I’m a SAHM, and he needs the social time.

  7. I absolutely think toddlers and preschoolers can benefit from sports. Both of mine started with soccer, and it fostered a love for being part of a team and being active. It did not foster a love for soccer, but it gave them the confidence to try other sports as they got older. Happy soccer season, Katie! I’ll be watching lacrosse and field hockey.

  8. With a positive attitude an outlook like yours, yes, I think your child will benefit from playing soccer. It’s going to be fun for you too! A friend of mine is forcing her four year old to play soccer. The kid hates it and mostly wanders around the field and avoids the ball, but you wouldn’t know it from all the facebook photos labeling the kid ‘the next Mia Hamm’ and bragging about soccer games. I think some parents try to live vicariously through their child.

    We have our two kids in swim class. I like the discipline and of it, and watching my Wildling work at developing new skills. My husband likes it, because he gets to be in the water with our younger daughter (parents are in the class until the child is three) so it’s great bonding time for them.

    1. When you force your kid to play, no one wins. And I’m not even talking about the score. The kid isn’t happy, the parents can’t be satisfied,

      And the kids who play with and against them kind of lose, too. There’s a lot to this, probably too much for a comment response, but maybe enough for a post.

  9. We would sign our toddler up for sports, but we live so far from organized sports with youth that it’s not happening.

    Instead we encourage meaningful activity and play daily with our toddler and 4 month old.

    We sprint on the beach, follow beach trails, run up and down dunes, hike in the rain forest, skip rocks in the lakes and ponds, climb wherever we can, fly kites, balance on driftwood beams, and more.

    All the while, we chat about respect for the environment, for most of our activity is done outside in natural areas.

    1. Wow. So after a soccer tournament, I’d love to take the girls to a place like this. Probably all this nature training, when your kids go play with a soccer or baseball team later, they’ll kick everyone’s butt and end up making a Disney movie out of them. Seriously, there can be nothing better than “meaning activity and play daily … ” Those are lucky kids!

      1. Thank you.

        We love where we live. With my husband a former competitive triathlete and myself a swimmer and yoga teacher, we prioritize health and experiences.

        We also listen to our daughters and what they like, need, and want.

        For instance, the other day the two year old wanted to be with me as I photographed bald eagles. She learned to walk silently and with awareness out of respect for the birds. Then, after we shot from 10 feet away, she saw the birds fly away.

        An aside, the head coach of the local high school football team requires each boy to run 3 miles on the beach before he earns his helmet. An assistant coach waits for those who cannot complete it.

      2. I love so much about this comment … the experience with bald eagles, listening to your kids, the beach run.

        These are the differences between living life with an 8-crayon box or the jumbo 64 pack. *With* sharpener in the back.

  10. Not even my five-year-old has played any sports.. but now I’m tempted to sign up my 2.5-year-old. I think there are plenty of benefits all around, and I don’t think it’s too early. That’s the age my mom’s art school accepts students, actually. Do they make Picasso works of art? Of course not. But they’re learning and interacting and some of that is sticking in their memories forever.

    1. Do they have sports in your town, Tam? Des already has soccer hair. We’re never too old for art and soccer. Lionel Messi and Pablo Picasso had to have the opportunity to create the art they do.

      And also learn a little about life. Hell, aren’t we all still learning about life?

      1. I think even 100-year-olds are still learning about life.
        We do have sports in our town, but I think he has more of what they call hockey hair. Apparently hockey players are studs.

  11. I haven’t enrolled even my five-year-old in any sports either (like Tamara) so I guess I have no experience with whether it ‘works’ or not. I haven’t been inclined to, only because my eldest hasn’t shown interest in anything (though the last few weeks he has requested swim lessons, so that will probably be something we’ll enroll him in during the summer). The little ones will likely ask for soccer, as they are mad about the sport even when they were only a year old. Depending on the coaching style, hopefully it’ll work out!

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