Kids with social challenges may not enjoy sports with a lot of team interaction. That doesn’t mean they can’t participate in athletics. Many sports have little social pressure but still let kids build social skills.
Track and Field
The focus is on the individual in many track and field sports. But even though kids are only competing against their own best time, they’re still part of a team. That can be a win-win situation for kids with social skills issues. They don’t have to interact with other kids during competition, but still have an opportunity to make friends and socialize. If kids want to have a little more interaction on the track, they can run a relay race.
Yoga isn’t so much a “sport” as a physical activity. But it creates a positive mind-body connection that can help with social challenges. Yoga can be very calming. At the same time, it helps kids work on balance, flexibility and gross motor skills. It can also help them become more aware of their bodies and their feelings. There’s no competition in a yoga class, but kids are still in a group setting where they can interact and build social skills.
Racquet sports are easy for a child with social skills issues to jump right into and enjoy. They don’t have complex rules and don’t require working within a team. Group classes can provide a chance to work on social skills as well as tennis skills. But the main focus is on the instructor, not other kids. And when it comes to matches, kids can play singles—or doubles, if they want bit more social interaction and teamwork.
Martial arts are a good choice for kids who struggle with social skills. Like yoga and wrestling, they’re individual sports that don’t involve a lot of interaction and teamwork. Martial arts, including karate and tae kwon do, offer many benefits to kids with learning and thinking differences. They build self-esteem, self-control and concentration. Most important, they teach respect for others. Having to bow to your opponent and wait for commands can translate into stronger social skills outside of martial arts class.
Team Sports Your Child Really Wants to Try
Kids with social skills issues may not do as well in sports that require a lot of close teamwork. That includes games like soccer, hockey and basketball. But if your child wants to do a team sport and you find a good coach who is mindful of her social skills issues, you may want to let her try it. With enough motivation she may be able to shine as both an athlete and a team player!