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by Kaitlin Ahern

Related: sports, physically active, daughter, girls, children, kids, parents, tips, advice, how to, encourage, support, role model, go out and play, Nicole Lavoi, women's sports foundation,


As a parent, you have a responsibility to encourage physical activity in your children. Daughters especially benefit from this kind of support. Read our tips for moms and dads on how you can instill a love of physical activity and encourage sports participation in your child.


The "Go Out and Play: Youth Sports in America" study suggests that gender differences in sports participation may start at home. While 46 percent of boys cited their fathers as teaching them the most about exercise and how to play sports, only 28 percent of girls did so - instead, they named non-family members such as coaches and physical education teachers as their sports mentors. The study suggests that dads may be spending more time mentoring their sons than daughters, as boys said their fathers encourage them to be physically active at a higher rate than that reported by girls.

   "It's parents' responsibility to make sure their kids are active," Dr. Lavoi says. She adds that parents should make physical activity mandatory for their children. While Dad may traditionally be the primary sports enthusiast in the house, Moms can and should play that role for their girls, too.


Dr. Lavoi's tips for getting your daughter active:

1. Be patient, and work with your child to find something she's excited about.

2. Provide the opportunity. "Encourage girls to be active and find something they enjoy, whether it be dance, basketball, cheerleading, jump rope, soccer - whatever she likes, as long as she's active."

3. Be a role model. "Parents need to send the message: This is important; this is something I value."

4. Encourage her to be the best she can be in relation to herself.

5. Work with coaches to create an "optimal environment" - one that is focused on learning and skill development, features caring and supportive relationships, and is safe physically and psychologically. "Just because they're engaged in a physical activity doesn't mean they get the benefits," Dr. Lavoi says. "That largely depends on the climate created by parents and coaches."



For more tips on getting girls active, visit www.womenssportsfoundation.org.

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