The life lessons your children will learn from organized sports are invaluable. Kids are taught how to actively partake in team building exercises, while learning the value of participation, goal setting, and responsibility. Concepts such as competition and commitment are instilled in children, allowing them to carry some of those lessons with them for the rest of their lives. Below is a list of some important developmental characteristics kids are taught when partaking in team sports and activities.
Socializing and Getting Along with Others
Kids of different backgrounds are often put together in the same teams. Children who go to different schools, or live in different towns are placed together to learn and grow. Team sports foster social behavior among kids, despite any differences between them. Interacting with kids of different personalities or skills, and social or ethnic backgrounds provides kids with invaluable life lessons they can carry with them well into adulthood. Kristin Chessman of She Knows suggests enrolling kids into organized sports in order to foster in them an understanding of diversity.
Winning isn’t everything, but it is important. Life is somewhat about competition. In competition, an individual either wins or loses. Placing kids in an environment where they can potentially feel the euphoria of winning, or the heartbreak of losing is important for character development. If children hope to compete and succeed, they will inevitably need to understand how important effort is in order to achieve their goals.
Hard Work and Dedication
Once your children are a bit older, they’ll realize that it is difficult to succeed without hard work. Kids eventually realize that hard work can make them play and perform better on and off the pitch, court, or rink. Developing a hunger for success can only be created by understanding that goals are met with exceptional effort. Participation is simply not enough.
It’s in kids’ nature to feel entitled – especially when it comes to fun. Nothing is a more entitlement-breaking experience than having to sit on the bench during games. In organized sports, children learn a very difficult lesson: kids with more skill naturally earn more playing time. According to Annette Christiansen of Education Week, the concept of earning playtime is a difficult, but absolutely necessary lesson. This will push kids to practice and work harder in order to achieve their goals.
Organized sports presents an array of problems that require millisecond decision making. Observing the manner in which another team plays, and adapting to that style is an important manner in which kids learn on the field. Figuring out how to defend against certain attacks, or how to penetrate an opponent’s defense allows kids to apply problem solving skills in competitions. This stirs kids to use creativity to solve problems as well.
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The CDC recommends that children and adolescents spend up to 60 minutes a day undertaking aerobic physical activity. Reports have shown however that children often fall short of this goal. According to the American Heart Association, the obesity rate among children and teens has risen dramatically over the past twenty years.
Among children ages 6-11, about 15 percent of children are overweight. Among children and adolescents between the ages of 12-19 on the other hand, 16.1 percent are overweight. Children are naturally more active than adults. However, as they approach adolescence, children become increasingly less active. Now more than ever with the advent of video games and computers, children are becoming less attracted to the draws of physical activity in the outside world. If you’re looking to get your child more physically active throughout the week, try some of these tips from Sarah Henry of WebMD.
Enroll them in Sports
An obvious choice to getting your child more active is enrolling them in a sports program. Sports like basketball, hockey, and soccer are great ways for children to engage in physical activity while also socializing with other children. Teamwork and collaboration are important aspects to any character building process, therefore making team sports a great way of promoting proper physical and mental health.
Have them Perform Other Activities
If for whatever reason your child is not adapting well to team sports, or simply dreads the sport you put them into, get creative. Conventional sports may simply not interest your child, so it’s important that you try something different. Martial Arts, swimming, and wrestling are some great activities that stray away from the traditional organizational fabric of conventional sports. Other activities like dancing, rock climbing, and biking can be especially good ways of promoting physical activity.
Make Exercise Part of their Routine
By making exercise and physical activity as important as going to school, working, eating, and sleeping, it will be difficult for a child to ignore the importance of exercise. Instilling in them that sense of routine makes it much easier for children to pursue regular physical activity, even once they’ve strayed from the nest. Yet for this to work, it is vital that you:
Children love playing with their parents. Playing with your children has lasting social and emotional benefits. Encourage your child’s physical and mental wellbeing by actively engaging with them in physical activity. Whether this means taking your family on a hiking trip, or simply playing catch with them in the backyard, parents can act as catalysts to their own children’s physical activity. This is vital to the development of children.
Don’t Forget to make it Fun!
For young ones with developing attention spans, fun is priority number one. Make sure that you don’t turn a physical activity into a chore. Therefore, don’t be forceful, and make sure they (and you) are having fun.
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A love for and appreciation for physical activity and fitness is best instilled in a child early on. Without it, kids are more at risk for obesity and related diseases due to lack of physical health.
Did you know that only one out of three children are active every day?
Also, kids and teenagers spend, on average, 7 hours playing video games, watching television, using a computer, and texting on phones.
While one in three children are active every day, one in three children are also considered overweight in the United States.
So, how do you instill a passion, a need, for physical activity in children?
- Ask around: it is not a bad idea to consult your child’s pediatrician for advice for how to talk to them about the importance of physical activity, the doctor may even talk to them for you! Also, a doctor can suggest activities or sports for your child to get involved in.
- Have fun: search for a sport or activity that your child will enjoy. Try a few out. Get the whole family involved. A fit family is more likely to stay fit than just one member alone.
- Be age appropriate: having your 7 year old run a marathon or do weight training is unrealistic and perhaps too intense. Instead, use tools like bicycles and soccer balls and pools to make exercising fun!
- Toys that do more: when purchasing toys and play equipment for your child, consider options that involve physical activity. Jump ropes and balls are toys that require being physical to use them.
- Do as I do: set an example for your children by also valuing physical fitness. If they see you exercising and enjoying it, they will be more likely to do the same.
- Limit screen time: since the average amount of time per day spend on electronics is 7 hours, a lot can be said for just turning those appliances off! Limit your kids time in front of screens and gear their attention to more active, physical past times.