Teenagers are at an age where they can make their own decisions regarding what they do in their spare time, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need a little guidance now and then. One of these major decisions your teen might face is about whether or not to continue playing an organized sport, which 70% of children choose to abandon by the time they turn 13.

While giving your teen the space to make their own decisions is important, it is equally important that they stay fit. When adolescents play sports, they are eight times as likely to be active at the age of 24 than teenagers who do not play sports.

Help your teen maintain a healthy lifestyle into their 20s and beyond by applying these motivational tips.

Avoid Negativity

You may think that your teenager is tuning out everything that you say, but in reality, adolescents are listening to you as much as when they were younger. Remember to remind your teen often that your joy comes from watching them play, not from whether they win. Try to encourage your teen to focus on their experience by asking them open-ended questions, such as which part of the game they enjoyed the most.

You should also be aware of any complaints you make in response to their sport. Whether you’re peeved that you had to wait 20 minutes for soccer practice to let out or that muddy shoes are ruining your clean floors, your teens will use your complaints as reasons to quit. After all, dirt is just dirt and steam kills 99% of common household germs and bacteria, including bed bugs and dust mites. Mopping for a few minutes is worth it to instill healthy habits in your teen.

Find A Sport That Fits Your Teen

No two teenagers are the same. While you may have loved hockey in your adolescence, your child may despise the pressure of being on a team. If your teen truly has no interest in continuing the sport they are in currently, help them find a sport or activity that suits them. Look into community programs and exercise classes. These are great options for teenagers who dislike competitive environments but need to stay active.

In this strategy, the key is to actively listen to your teenager. Note if your teen perks up when ice skating comes on the Olympics or lingers in the running shoe aisle. By simply listening, you can guide your teen to an activity they actually love.

Steer Clear Of Conflict

When your teenager clashes with the coach, a teammate, or another parent, you will naturally want to jump to their defense. However, if it is possible to do so, let your teen handle the conflict on their own. You should only actively intervene if it is a toxic situation.

By encouraging your teenager to be their own advocate, you’re giving them the tools to persevere through any situation. You can still help by role-playing with your teen to work through potential scenarios with a coach who doesn’t give them enough game time or limits them to one position. Assist your child with setting attainable goals, such as keeping a positive attitude, to keep them motivated in their sport.

Regular exercise is essential for teenagers to develop new skills, meet new people, and to build a strong and healthy body. Exercise can even help your teen’s immune system fight off the one billion colds Americans catch every year. Encouraging your teenager to stay in sports can create the foundation they need for a healthy and happy life.