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Is there value in children’s sport

Is there value in children’s sport

You organise your schedule with great effort in order to take your child to hockey practise two afternoons a week. After a while it becomes apparent that your child is not particularly talented in this particular field. It is easy to ask the question if it is worth your time and effort to let your child participate in sport at all, but the answer to this question is a resounding yes! There are many different sports your child could try in order to find the most suitable option.

Sport is great for character building and can contribute to the learning of valuable life lessons and the development of a healthy self-esteem.

Here are some reasons why you should encourage your child to keep participating:

Health reasons
The Australian department of health warns that kids who are inactive for long periods are more likely to have poor physical, social and intellectual development. Evidence suggests that it can limit creative play, slow the development of language skills, lead to poor social skills and an increased risk of being overweight.

Protect your child’s brain
iPads, smartphones and televisions are an inescapable reality of today’s childhood. Certain educational apps and TV shows are excellent to assist with the development of your child’s brain, but extended exposure to electronic media can lead to delayed cognitive development in kids. Neuro-imaging research has proven that excessive screen time damages the brain and can cause sensory overload, lack of restorative sleep and a hyper aroused nervous system. Sufferers become impulsive, moody and can’t pay attention.

Sense of belonging
Sport offers a great opportunity to make new friends and learn how to get along with different personality types. Close relationships are often formed on the sports field with other children who are not necessary from the same school or social circle of the parents. Children learn how to deal with conflict and what it means when you have a friend who ‘has your back’.

The valuable lesson of losing
Sport should never be only about winning, but also about having fun and doing the best you can. When you are up against a better opponent, you learn how to lose with integrity, how to be gracious in defeat and humble in success. Losing can act as a motivation to improve skills to try again.

Patience and discipline
Sport creates an environment where children learn not to quit, even when they are tired or not in the mood. They learn how to stay focused and how commitment and dedicated practise over a long period is essential to accomplish goals. Set rules have to be followed and direction needs to be taken from coaches, referees and peers.

Players have to learn to accept decisions, even when they do not agree with the decision.  They learn to be proud of small achievements and to patiently work towards long term goals. Research has shown that increased physical activity lead to higher academic achievement.

Controlling emotions
Athletes experience emotions ranging from excitement and elation to disappointment, anger and frustration during a competition. It is important for kids to learn how to cope with this emotional rollercoaster as players are often penalised for bad behaviour. They learn how to deal with disappointment and to go back, week after week, giving it their best shot.

Being amember of a team
Teams had a better chance when all the team members work together, regardless of how good individual players are.
Through team sport children learn how to become good team mates and that ego’s are not good for team morale or performance. They learn to think about what’s best for the team and not to be selfish.

These useful lessons learnt on the sport field can be carried into adulthood and their future careers.

Sources: Psychologytoday.com; Mentalhelp.net

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