Sports organizations offer team sports for children as young as three, including basketball, soccer, baseball and tennis. Playing sports requires teamwork, motor skills and the ability to follow directions and children are just beginning to develop these skills at the age of two. Choose safe and positive sports experiences that will help your toddler develop motor skills and interests that will help her prepare for playing sports in the future.
Developing Motor Skills
At the age of two, toddlers are expanding their repertoire of motor skills to include climbing, rolling a ball, pushing and pulling toys and stooping to pick something up without falling over. Play games like catch with a large ball to strengthen these skills. A child may only play a game for 5 to 10 minutes at a time, so follow his lead and watch for opportunities to help your child safely climb, throw and run to practice his new skills.
Interacting with Peers
Two-year-olds are just beginning to share toys and interact with peers. They are more likely to engage in parallel play than to truly interact with another child. When practicing sports skills with toddlers, it is important to have equipment for each child to minimize jealousy and conflict. Toddlers can also be aggressive when they are angry, hitting or biting others, so it is best to engage them in games like catch or running races where there is little physical contact. Avoid putting toddlers in situations where they are competing with each other because they do not yet have the skills to handle winning and losing.
At the age of two, children are intensely proud of the things they can do by themselves, and begin to help with their grooming and dressing. They love to show off new skills and can follow one-step directions, such as "Run to the swings." Toddlers will learn many skills by watching and imitating adults, so at this stage your actions really do speak louder than words. Show your child how to handle equipment safely and demonstrate one skill at a time. Help your child practice swinging the bat at T-ball and running the bases separately. By the late preschool years, she will be able to put these skills together in an organized game.
Watching the Game
Although your 2-year-old may not be old enough to understand the rules of baseball or football, you can still make watching sports a memorable family experience. Make a special snack and sit down to watch the game with your child, but remember that his attention span is short and he will probably move on to another activity shortly. A child has many years in which to develop athletic skills and participate in sports, but the joys and challenges of having a 2-year-old only last a short time.