Written by Lyndsey Morgan
Even at a young age, children are overwhelmed by many mental and physical problems that they shouldn't experience. Having health, confidence, self-esteem and social issues can be detrimental to a child's development in life. Going through these struggles should not be on a child's list of things to worry about. One helpful way to improve, or even prevent these issues is through the child's participation in sports.
Sports can be a fun, healthy way to build confidence and other admirable characteristics in a child. Sports can provide children with motivation and teach them about life lessons, as well as the importance of social stability and education. So, how do sports play as a positive factor in child development? Here are the answers to that question.
Physically, you want your kids to be fit. Plenty of parents believe that their child is physically fit, but the numbers are lower than people believe. One way sports can improve child development is through the physical aspects of their lives. During the childhood years, normally between the ages of 6 and 11, the child's body will go through multiple changes. Keeping a child active during this time will help achieve healthy stability in him or her. By doing it safely and with proper technique, sports can be a good way for any child to work out certain ways to stay fit. It is also a good way for children to understand eating habits while staying fit; out with the bad, in with the good foods in order to maintain stamina and physical stability.
Then there are the social aspects of any sport. Sports give way for a child to hang out with friends, meet new people and build bonds. Teams are a brother or sisterhood of sorts, giving children people around them that they can rely on. As teammates, the children are trusted and forced to trust others in order to succeed. These characteristics are very beneficial in life, from jobs to friendships. Giving the child an atmosphere where they can express themselves to others of similar interests will also provide confidence in them.
The mental aspects of all sports can be as beneficial, if not more, than anything else. Building confidence and self-esteem in the child is a trait that will take them through life with their heads held high. The child will also learn the characteristics of leadership through the process of sports and the importance of it. Going through life as a follower, mimicking other people is no way to push you ahead of the crowd. Standing out and being your own person, that's the lesson sports can teach a child, allowing them to stand tall and rely on themselves. Leadership, confidence, high self-esteem, and success; these are all attributes every parent wants for their child. Sports are a solid base to provide those to children and help with their healthy development through life.
As your child grows older, the role of a student-athlete becomes increasingly important. The ability to balance out sports and school will instill responsibility into the child, allowing them to plan accordingly. We all know the importance of education in children and we're learning the importance of sports to a child's development. Becoming a student-athlete gives emphasis to the importance of academics and sports at the same time. In fact, education at the high school and college levels is a necessity to compete in organized sports, making a child ineligible if their grades are not up to the standards of that school. With proper balance of the two, meaning being responsible in choices the child makes, success is much easier to achieve.
Keep in mind that the child must also understand the middle ground of winning. It's not everything, and it shouldn't be. Winning is nice and can build confidence, but knowing to get right back up and shake it off if you lose is another strong characteristic to have. Winning should coincide with the other elements of sports such as teamwork, fun, fitness and confidence. Make sure the child understands that it isn't about winning; it is about how you win. Some people will do whatever it takes to win, including cheating, and that is a negative developmental characteristic. When a child enters sports, make sure to embrace and celebrate winning, but don't overemphasize it as the most important aspect. Winning with class and dignity, is the more rewarding victory.
When children play sports, they develop a high multitude of positive characteristics that will carry them throughout life; not just in the field, court, or ring, but in everyday living.
Let's review: Confidence, social abilities, responsibility, determination, appreciation, leadership, teamwork; all these things can be instilled in a child's characteristics from sports at a young age and beyond those years. Children will develop with a different mindset playing sports, and grow into respectable adults with all the keys to be successful in all of life's games.
Development During the School-Age Years of 6 Through 11 - Here is an excellent guide for development through the school years (with the characteristics that sports build).
The Role of Winning in Youth Sports This link provides detail on the role of winning in youth sports.
The Importance of Sports For Children Here is an article discussing the importance of sports for children.
The Importance of Youth Involvement in Sports This explains the importance of youth involvement in sports.
NCAA Student Here is a helpful guide for the later stages of becoming a student-athlete.