How to Keep Siblings Busy at Sporting Events

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Boy in bleachers looking sport event eating sandwich

Many parents struggle with how to entertain siblings at sporting events as older kids get involved in more extracurricular activities. Big brothers and sisters are old enough to play sports and attend classes, but younger siblings aren’t quite there yet. 

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Spectator children observing spectacle. Looking at the show

Why Entertain Siblings at Sporting Events for Your Older Kids?

For many parents, keeping the littles from getting antsy during a baseball game or gymnastics tournament is a familiar problem. Many kids love playing sports, and there are many reasons to get them involved.

Young children, toddlers especially, have short attention spans. Furthermore, they’re unlikely to understand much about the rules of the game or event. Finally, there’s the problem that small children may not understand why they can’t join in the fun!

Preventing your kids from running out onto the field or court is a particular challenge during outdoor sports. Young minds may not see anything wrong with playing outside, when adults are always encouraging them to play outside!

Joining the big kids in running around with a ball may be too much of a temptation to resist.

Obviously, you don’t want to cheat your older kid about of the enriching experience of team sports. It isn’t their fault they have younger siblings, after all.

Additionally, child care may be an issue. You may be unable to hire a sitter or leave younger children a family member.

Therefore, parents are left with an unenviable task: to entertain siblings at sporting events.

The Hidden Challenges

It would be one thing if you only had to keep your children occupied during a practice or game. However, you want to be present for your older children, as well. You don’t want to miss that goal, that basket, or that backflip. 

Additionally, you probably are anxious about distracting other parents during the game or tournament. The struggle, therefore, is to not choose an activity that is even more disruptive than energetic toddlers!

Let’s take a look at some clever options and innovative suggestions on how to entertain siblings at sporting events.

girl spectator little children looking show outdoor park looking camera

Make Sure Big Brothers and Sisters Aren’t the Only Ones Getting Active

Little bodies were made to move; they’re supposed to move!

Therefore, parents should practice some expectation management. Go into the event expecting your younger kids will want to move after watching so many other kids being active.

The kind of activity depends on the layout of the field or sports complex. The setup may very well be that your younger children can run around freely without bothering anyone. If you can see them and know where they are at all times, this option may be totally adequate!

On the other hand, if free range isn’t your style or just isn’t feasible, you’ll need to get creative.

Entertain Siblings at Sporting Events: Let Them Ride Bikes, Scooters, Etc.

Again, this option is totally contingent upon the layout of the location of the practice or game. However, if the site is conducive to riding bikes, tricycles, scooters, or skateboards, maybe you could bring them! 

Sure, loading and unloading is a bit of a hassle. However,it may keep younger siblings occupied and let mom or dad catch a few minutes of the game.

Let Little Brothers and Sisters Play Their Own Sports

If there’s an empty field or area near the playing field, consider bringing balls/nets/mitts. Let younger siblings have their fun. If littles feel like they’re playing their own game, they may be less likely to rush the field.

Cute little girl on a stadium

Bug Hunts

This one is a fun combination of running around, along with the stimulation of discovery. You can send children out to find specific bugs and make it a scavenger hunt. Alternately, you could ask them to come back to you with a report of their own bugs.

Engage Kids’ Minds As Well As Their Bodies

Not every option to entertain siblings at sporting events needs to be physical. Depending on your children, their abilities and temperaments, and the time of day, they may not feel like running around. 

That’s okay. 

Mom or dad simply need to be prepared to provide younger siblings with varied forms of entertainment!

Consider keeping a bag or tub in the car or near the front door that children can take with them. Stock the container with quiet toys, coloring books and crayons, sensory activities like Play-Doh, and books. That way, it will be all ready to go when you head out to older siblings’ games and events.

Younger children may also enjoy the quality time with their parents, without the older sibling around. Use the time to tell your younger children stories, recite nursery rhymes, or do songs and fingerplays. If young siblings seem interested, parents can teach them about the rules of big brother or sister’s activity!

The Best Offense is a Good Defense. Be Prepared!

It’s one thing to entertain siblings at sporting events. It’s another to deal with cranky small children who aren’t interested in being entertained in the first place.

Help avoid reaching the point of no return by coming stocked with essentials. Stock a collapsible wagon with snacks and water, and anything needed to keep them warm enough or cool enough.

Child watching sports game in stadium

If Push Comes to Shove, Bring Out the Big Guns (Rewards)

Understandably, parents may want to avoid electronics. It can feel strange to have one child to engage in sports while the other kid stares at a screen.

Keep the tablet or phone in reserve, and offer it as an incentive for good behavior. 

Alternately, offer a stop at a favorite restaurant for a small treat or fun meal in exchange for good behavior!

Twin Cities Kids Club Membership For The Win

Find affordable activities for your family with a free Twin Cities Kids Club Membership. You can take advantage of discounts and offers at family-friendly local businesses and restaurants in the Twin Cities area.

Sign up for a membership and start enjoying classes, activities, and events in your community!

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