Is Your Child Scared of Gym Class?

The school year has begun!  And, that means the return of the sometimes dreaded gym class.

Physical education (PE) classes at school cause fear and anxiety for many children. If your child is nervous at gym class time, these tips will help your child address his/her anxieties and learn to manage anxious situations.

Some kids love PE and look forward to burning off energy during gym class, but for others, PE is the most dreaded time of the school day. They may be embarrassed about their lack of athletic ability or self-conscious about their weight.

As the founder of Fitness for Health, a therapeutic fitness facility using innovative exergaming technology, I’ve seen firsthand how fear of gym class can keep kids from enjoying school, social activities and prohibit them from achieving a healthy lifestyle now and later in life.

Here are four tips for parents of children nervous about PE:

  • Be proactive. Find out which sports/physical activities your child will play in gym class. Practice ahead of time with your child so he/she won’t be as self-conscious when playing those games with peers at school. Kick the soccer ball around the backyard, shoot baskets in the driveway or work on serving for volleyball.
  • If you are unable to practice with your child, contact a children’s gym to register him/her for fitness or sports classes.  Children’s gyms can be a fun transition into PE class because the child can learn that fitness can be enjoyable and that all sports skills can be learned with dedication and hard work over time.  It also gives the child positive reinforcement while working at his/her own pace and the self-confidence to try new skills without the fear of peer ridicule.
  • Help your child laugh at himself/herself. Playing with your child is a great time to demonstrate how to make light of your personal, athletic weaknesses. Keep the games lighthearted and fun and don’t forget to ensure that your child understands that gym class doesn’t need to be taken so seriously.
  • Encourage your child to embrace a lifelong, healthy active lifestyle. There are many ways to stay fit, not just team sports. Give your child the opportunity to try out different activities, from swimming to hiking to dance to flag football. Some kids may like working out at a fitness center while others may like to take a jog around the neighborhood while taking that time to reflect on the day’s events.

It’s hard to watch your child suffer. But, PE class can offer a teachable moment by allowing your child to learn to overcome difficult situations with grace and determination.  A child won’t like every sport played in gym class, but maybe he/she will find a new physical activity that will be loved into adulthood!

To learn how Fitness for Health can help your child improve his or her gym class fundamentals by participating in fun, fitness programs designed specifically for children and teenagers, visit www.FitnessForHealth.org or call 301-231-7138 to schedule a free tour of our children’s fitness facility. Or, join us on Sunday, October 6, from 5pm – 6pm for our Open House.