As parents aren’t we on a constant lookout for the best ways to raise our children and impart to them skills, values and priorities that will help them sustain a balanced adult life? Well, this quest is as old as parenting itself and definitely one with no simple solution or set pattern. However, fret not! For there certainly are some activities that contribute to the positive development of our kids and are so much fun for them at the same time!
Researchers have accumulated a mountain of evidence regarding the importance of sports or general physical activity in a child’s life, being quite quintessential. There is a reason why the age-old adage says “All work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy!”. In fact, the obvious necessity of sports for kids extends well beyond just the physical well-being of our children, so here’s taking a look at the value of sports and games in their lives:
Development of Physical Capabilities and Motor Skills:
The most appropriate time for the development of a child’s physical capabilities is generally from early to mid-childhood (roughly ranging from 7 - 11 years of age). It is during these years, that a child generally learns the process of using their senses to explore and discover new things and in a way to make sense of their present surroundings.
The constant pottering around the house and barrage of questions that keep coming your way, the amount of energy and curiosity that children possess is incredible! Hence, this phase is key to the building and stimulating of brain activity for your child and will also help in fostering confidence, a sense of independence as well as the development of physical capacity that will help him lead an active life.
When you take your child to the park and see him swinging from swing sets and hanging around on the jungle gym, not only is your little one having fun but it’s also honing a sense of agility as well as motor skills, that helps them deal with challenging situations in a confident manner. Thus sports activities for kids, help in fostering that development from a rather early stage, which will eventually result in better body coordination, the fluidity of movement, strength/endurance and fast reflexes in your child (and let's be honest which parent wouldn't want that?).
Improved Physical Health and Disease Prevention:
Remember your childhood when you along with your buddies played outside until parents yelled at you and literally dragged you back home! Well, that was the era of limited access to digital media and mobile devices. The kids of today are all addicted and glued to various gadgets. The trend is very hazardous for the overall health of the kids.
Because of being glued to their TV, mobile, laptop Screens, children today are showing lesser and lesser active participation in sports (this especially holds true for the 10-18 age range), which has led to an increase in the cases of obesity among young adults.
Children who are active and involved in sports from a younger age, generally have better joints as well as muscle tone, which further helps in maintaining a controlled body weight with lean muscles, reduced levels of fat, better blood circulation etc. In fact, the carefree joy of playing out with your friends (isn’t that how you remember your childhood days!), will help your kid in dealing better with stress, depression or anxiety during their adolescence period.
Learning of New Skills:
As your child grows up, he will also learn new things. Inculcating a healthy interest in sports, will make them engage themselves in challenging sports environment, which will, in turn, help them acquire skills such as cognitive abilities, resilience, coordination, self-confidence, communication skills etc., that will help them attain a feeling of being in control and be able to accomplish even difficult tasks.
Another very important point that needs mentioning is how sports for kids, also helps in facilitating the development of moral character in terms of social dimensions in a child. As a parent, you know that adult life is fraught with challenges and split-second decisions that require all these skills above, so if being physically active facilitates all of it, then go Sports!!!
Delving into the importance of sports for kids, we cannot emphasise enough on the benefits of child development through sports. To elaborate further, we’re listing out the top 6 psychological as well as social benefits of sports for children:
Being part of a sports team, generally gives a child a feeling of belonging and a unique opportunity to venture out and make new friends. In fact, your kids may even form friendships that last a lifetime!
Being involved in a sports activity will also affront your child with a social circle outside of school, and can become a much-needed outlet of social support for your kid.
No one likes a sore loser, and bad sportsmanship is definitely an unpleasant thing to watch. Sometimes children need to learn how to lose and that too graciously. There is no harm at all in being competitive, but learning how to express your frustration in a non-aggressive manner leads to the building of a wholesome mature personality (and let’s be honest who doesn’t want that?).
Losing with integrity and graciousness to a better opponent is so much better and honourable than to be throwing tantrums. In fact, many a time we witness a display of bad sportsmanship by adults while competing, and we do not hesitate in expressing our distaste for it. Why not nip the attitude in the bud and inculcate the right spirit of sportsmanship in our little ones?
Do you have a willful child and sometimes feel that an occasional dose of extra disciplining might be needed? Well then, sign them up for a sports activity.
Having to follow a set of rules or taking directions and accepting the decisions of authorities, forms an integral part of playing a competitive sport. In fact, as you’ve seen a lot of time players get penalised for inappropriate behaviour.
Regular interaction with referees, coaches and other players, will teach your child how to respect elders and listen to his peers, an important skill that your child can take away from the field or court.
Numerous studies have suggested that sports/physical activities can actually contribute to the development of better self-esteem in kids. It could come in the form of a high-five from a friend, encouraging words from a coach or even a pat on the back, all of this leads to character building for your kid.
The fine line here, however, is to ensure that your child’s self-esteem doesn’t depend upon the number of wins or victories; as a parent, you should, in turn, focus more on your child’s efforts or how much he is enjoying the sport.
A supportive relationship with parents, coaches and teammates has the capacity to positively affecting a child’s self-esteem. So more often than asking “Did you win?” Ask your child “How did it go?” Or even better “Did you enjoy the game?”
Yes, there are instances when certain children are extremely gifted athletically, but more often than not practice plays a vital role for kids, no matter the kind of sports activity they might be involved in. Patience and dedication are valuable traits for your kids to learn. They say practice makes you perfect and for perfection, patience and dedication put together are the keys to success.
This doesn’t mean that the unnecessary pressure of perfectionism needs to be applied on your child, it’s rather along the lines of “If you want to really get better at something, then you need to be consistent in your efforts over a period of time”.
It has often been said, “There is no I in Team!” And of course, other clichéd phrases that you will often hear coaches say, which actually means nothing if the team does not believe in it. For a team to succeed, they need to work together, no matter how good the individual players might be. Learning how to communicate and value the effectiveness of teamwork is a lesson that will help your child even in their professional careers. Add to this, the extra benefit of learning to be less selfish and you have yourself a winner.
As you can see, the value of sports and games in your kids' life is too great to be ignored. And what’s better than the fact that kids love to be active. Many a time, parents tend to ignore physical activities or sports, associating it with lack of focus in their kid’s academics. However, there is plenty of research that says otherwise and talks about children improving their concentration by engaging in sports activities. So encourage your child to participate in sports, it will only help in the holistic development of their personality and as parents what better can we want for our kids?
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Until then Happy Parenting!