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When to start sports

Playing sports can be a lot of fun for your child and a great boon for his or her self-esteem. It can also offer lessons about playing fair and being a member of a team and help him or her make friends and stay active. Still, not every sport may be suitable for your child.

Up to about age 5, when children are still perfecting the most basic of movements, you may want to stick to simple playtime (running, climbing monkey bars, tumbling on mats, dancing, playing catch with a squishy ball or learning to ride a tricycle) rather than organized sports. Once your child is 6 years old, you can think about more organized activities like softball, soccer, gymnastics, swimming and karate. Most sports are acceptable for children ages 8 and older.

You should also consider how expensive the sport is, whether there’s a lot of physical contact (and more risk for injury) and whether every child has a chance to participate. Most important, make sure your child actually wants to play. Sports are supposed to be fun, not a chore!