The Amazing Benefits of Sports for Kids
By: Jennifer Dowd
With a little encouragement, children will leave the TV, the X-Box, and Wii behind for busy playgrounds and ball fields. Instead of chips and cookies, they'll reach for basketballs, footballs, rollerblades, and bicycles.
Not sure how many structured after-school activities kids should participate in? Too much structured activity is not good for young children, but a little planning for playtime does have its place. What better way to keep your kids out of the house and away from television and computer games than enrolling them in sports?
Research has found that participating in sports can have a healthy developmental impact on young children. These activities can promote cooperative play, teamwork, and good sportsmanship while helping to refine gross motor skills. Sports can also help children get along with and become accepted by others, including peers, family members, teachers, and coaches. Plus, through positive feedback, group play builds self-esteem, helping your child realize that she's a capable personal who is able to accomplish significant achievements.
Learning how to play fair is perhaps the most important lesson a child can glean from participating in youth sports. And according to American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, parents need to be actively involved in order to raise a good sport. They can do this by doing the following:
- Giving kids emotional support and positive feedback.
- Attending some games and talking about them afterward.
- Having realistic expectations for your child.
- Learning about the sport and supporting your child's involvement.
- Allow your child talk with you about their experiences with the coach and other team members.
- Helping your child handle disappointments and losing, and modeling respectful spectator behavior
CHOOSING A SPORT
If you have a child over the age of four, you know that there are dozens of activities and sports for them to become involved in, and it can be difficult to choose which ones are best. When deciding what sports to sign children up for, particularly young children, it is important to consider their personalities and interests.
Assertive children may be better suited for team sports such as soccer and basketball where close contact between other children is common. Less aggressive children may prefer baseball, swimming, or gymnastics where they are given more space and independence from the rest of the team. The most important thing to remember, however, is not to push your child into any activity they are not comfortable with. The result will be a stressed out child who will continue to resist you.
As parents of active children it is our job to look for the signs of a stressed-out child. Some examples include falling grades in school, a child who is often tired in the morning, a child that needs to be nagged to get ready for activities, or a child with an overactive concern for perfection.
We don't mean to pressure our children, but we may make them feel like they must achieve for us to make us happy. It is important to offer constant support and love, while trying not to push them into too much. While we all want our children to achieve great feats of success, it is important to remember that they are still children and need freedom to learn and explore at their own pace.