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The Benefits of Kids Playing Sports


As kids, our intelligence comes from both parents because genes play a role in our mental development. How do you know if your love for sports extends to your children? Does that have anything to do with genes? With all the controversies in some professional sports and scandals at the college level, do you want to see your kids playing sports? According to Scientific American, there is an organization in Colorado that reportedly can tell you if your child has a propensity for athletics. No, it isn’t foolproof, but it is one tool to potentially learn what sport may fit well with your child’s skill set. Other components are involved; however, you must admit it’s an interesting concept. For about $150 and an estimated three weeks wait, you could get the results of your child’s saliva test. Are you game (no pun intended)?

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Getting the kids involved in sports can be challenging at times, especially if they aren’t naturally outgoing and have at least a little self-confidence. It can be embarrassing to try out, and even if they make the team, there is always a little fear of failure. But let’s focus on the many benefits of getting the kids involved in some sports activities.

Benefits of Involvement

Speaking of self-confidence, it’s a great reason to get a little pushy with your kids and sports. An individual sport or a team sport is going to help your child think more highly of themselves, especially when they hear praise from friends, family, coaches, and others. Even if they don’t rack up a win, the improvement with practices leads to a more fulfilling game next time because it’s better than the last. It’s no small feat for a child to learn how to push themselves and trust their skills. Mentoring and receiving constructive criticism is going to teach them at an early age how to not only accept, but to learn and benefit from critical comments presented in a positive light. Parental support is an invaluable aid in your child’s physical, and healthy emotional growth.

Whether they were born a natural extrovert or introvert, being active in a sport enhances a child’s social skills that helps with a lifelong need. Interacting with other kids their age with similar interests teaches priceless lessons. Perhaps more important, they get to interact with other adults who are coaches and mentors and officials. Team building, communicating and leadership skills are going to be with them throughout life. You can also expect enhancements in their academic performance.

Athletes are typically well known in school and the dedication and hard they practice on the field or court is going to carry over to their school work. They are learning how improving and winning feels, and it spills over to other parts of their lives. Again, according to Scientific American, females who played on a sports team in high school increased their chances of graduating from college by 41%.

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Health

It seems like an obvious benefit; however, being involved in sports improves physicality and coordination. It’s too easy to get home from school, get homework done (usually while seated in front of a computer screen), and then jump to the television, game console, phone or tablet. Feeling in shape and healthy makes everyone feel better about themselves.

Feeling healthy and learning about the benefits of regular physical activities is likely to lead your kids to be dedicated to a healthy lifestyle in their adult years. They may even learn to make better food choices to maintain their bodies in top performing condition. Once again, parental advice and support is a major plus.

Obesity

As we all know, America continues to struggle with a severe morbid obesity issue, and it isn’t just adults. Our kids are suffering as well. Anyone who is currently suffering from the disease, or anyone who beat it, knows how it feels to be ostracized, especially as a child. Kids can be cruel, even if they don’t intend to hurt.

The Aspen Project Play reported that some kids just don’t have the resources or the access to be a sports participant.

The Sports and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) performs an annual household survey and reported that in 2008, an estimated 30.2% of children ranging in age from six to 12 were active and healthy via some organized sports program. Seven years later in 2015, that number decreased by nearly 27%. For kids ages 13 to 17, the number dropped from 42.7% to 39.3%.

Obesity is just one of the byproducts of too little physical activity. A lack of physical exercise can also be a contributor to heart disease, diabetes, bone and muscle health, certain types of cancer, and circulatory challenges that might haunt your children into adulthood and perhaps make their senior years far less enjoyable and more difficult.

Parental Support

As parents, it can be stressful trying to get your children involved in organized activities. Pushing versus pushing too hard, encouraging but not overloading your child, and gaining a balance that works for you and junior is often a challenge. Let us help with a few tips.

  • Let him/her select their sport of choice.
  • Work with them to help improve their skills.
  • Too much is going to lead your child to avoid participation because it feels more like a job than fun.
  • Spend at least an hour outside with them practicing or just being physical in a way that allows some disassociation from the sport.
  • Keep things discreet at home. Junior may have had enough at practice and just needs to enjoy from downtime occasionally, and that is okay.
  • Have a “sit down” with them to be sure they understand the commitment and responsibility associated with the sport and share your supportive thoughts and the benefits.
  • Try not to compare your child to other players. No one is going to win that game. They are going to make mistakes, help them learn and grow from those errors and avoid a meltdown or the easy excuse just to quit. You can even develop some signal at a game for when they “oops.” Wave your hand or tip your hat or something that tells your child “It’s okay, move on.”
  • Focus on the big picture by gently asking what they learned at practice today, or if you just attended a game, pick out a few things they did well and be sure they learned something from any mistakes. The scoreboard doesn’t need to be the center of attention.
  • If school sports don’t turn junior on, check out community leagues in your neighborhood.
  • While letting them select the sport, knowing their skills can help you guide them to a good decision.  For example,
    • Big ball or little ball?
    • Team or individual?
    • School or community activities?
    • Once puberty arrives, re-evaluate if needed.  Signs of burnout include:
      • Dreading practice
      • Not talking about the sport anymore
      • A lack of excitement
      • A change in eating or sleeping habits or
      • Always feeling tired are signs that every parent should know.

Lots of things to keep in mind for busy parents; however, if you successfully communicate with your child and show your support, you can both find the right sport and enjoy a higher quality of life for many years to come. Let’s play ball!


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The Benefits of Kids Playing Sports

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