Magazine article Work & Family Life

Can You Teach a Three-Year-Old to Play Ball?

Magazine article Work & Family Life

Can You Teach a Three-Year-Old to Play Ball?

Article excerpt

Q My husband has fantasies of our three-year-old becoming a sports star.

He's already trying to teach Dylan to throw, catch, kick and bat balls. I don't like the overemphasis on physical skills and wonder if my husband is pushing Dylan a little too hard. Any thoughts?

-R.C., Chicago

A Preschoolers vary widely in their degree of coordination. Sooner or later, all kids can learn to throw and catch a ball, but most three-year-olds do not have sufficiently developed hand-eye coordination to hit a moving ball with a bat.

More importantly, however, children this age do love physical play with their dads (and moms). To a three-year-old, in fact, the whole point of physical activity is having fun.

Encourage your husband to spend more time playing with your son than trying to teach him. Any skill that takes longer than a few seconds to show or explain is probably too complicated for a preschooler anyway.

Parenting expert Dr. Lawrence Kuttner also warns parents that pushing too hard can backfire. Kids may well come to dislike the very activities their parents want them to relish.

"Parents who try to push specific skills or a competitive attitude onto a child this age risk decreasing his self-confidence," says Dr. …

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