As the new school year approaches, many kids are looking forward to school sports or starting to play in local recreational leagues. As parents, we all want our children to get excited about group sports, as it can promote a healthy lifestyle and help our kids make new friends. Youth sports, though, can be far more influential than many parents might realize. Children learn how to socialize when they join teams, and parents can influence how that socialization affects their children while they grow into young adults.
In honor of Youth Sports Week, The Colony ER Hospital wants to talk about how parents can encourage their kids to participate in sports while encouraging a healthy social development. After all, no player can be a star unless they learn good sportsmanship and self-confidence along the way. If you’re wondering how you can be a supportive figure for your child’s athletic dreams, then keep reading to find out more.
While some kids might be eager to join the local softball or basketball team, other kids are shy or uninterested in team activities. For many parents, this can be concerning. Everyone wants the best for their child, and getting your children involved in physical activity can create a foundation of health, both mental and physical. So how do you properly encourage children to join sports if your child isn’t interested?
Start by focusing on the emotional positives of sports. If your child likes to kick a soccer ball around the back yard by themselves, then you can ask them how they’d feel about meeting other kids who enjoy soccer. If your child struggles to make friends at school, consider asking them if they want to join a community team, where they can meet new kids and get to interact more with their peers. Telling them how much fun sports can be is a good place to start with any children who are hesitant to get involved. Let them know that it is okay to be nervous, and make sure that they don’t feel pressured. You never want to give your child an ultimatum by telling them they have to join a sports team. Make sure it is something they can try, and if they enjoy it, then they can keep playing. Children who are forced into different extra-curricular activities might struggle to enjoy themselves, and feel stressed by the sport, rather than have fun like they should.
It is also important that you never make joining a team about weight. Some children do struggle with their weight in early ages but focusing on a child ‘losing weight’ or ‘getting in shape’ can lead to very unhealthy emotional complexes as they get older. You want your child to feel confident and supported by you, not bullied. Instead, focus on their enjoyment. If it turns out your child does not enjoy sports at all, then that is ok. You can start family walks and adventures to keep your child moving and see if they want to join any clubs at school to help them learn teamwork.
Sports teams means competing. Your child might be experiencing competitive games for the first time, or they might be an avid athlete who’s been playing on school teams for several years. No matter where they are, your child is experiencing strong competition amongst their own peer group. This competition can inspire passion and drive in your child, but it can also bring about stress and pressure.
Parents play a very important role here. If you notice your child getting anxious close to big games, or they seem to be angry when they lose a game, it might be time to sit down with them and have a discussion. While competition can be healthy for a child, winning is not everything. Teaching your kids to be good sports and how to lose can be just as valuable and teaching them how to work hard for their goals. Kids need to know that losing doesn’t mean they’re any less valuable as a player. They can still be talented, even when they lose, as long as they are trying their hardest at practice and games, they should be proud of themselves.
If you think your child is getting pressured by coaches or friends to always excel, then talk with them about how your family can rally to their support and what needs to be done. Sometimes, it can be as simple as reassuring your child that it is okay to lose. Other times, you might need to consider changing teams to find better coaching. No matter what, open communication with your child is a good thing, and will help them get all they can out of their sports experience.
One of the best things that kids can learn by playing sports is how to work hard for something. Maybe your kids are naturally bright and excel in school work without needing any extra tutoring. Maybe they’re artistic and can shine amongst their peers as a born talent. These are all good virtues, but as a parent, it is important to encourage your children to work hard and put their all into something they find important. Since children have to compete as teams, and directly compete with one another in sports, they might find it more difficult to be the star on the field or court.
Younger children might find this discouraging, but as a parent, it is important to give them positive reinforcement and encourage them to keep trying. If they love playing a sport, then remind your child of how much fun they have playing, and how proud they should be of the work they put into this sport. Teaching your child how to strive for something and work hard to improve can be an invaluable skill that they will take with them into adulthood.
The social influences of playing sports can help to shape your children as they mature and grow. For this reason, The Colony ER Hospital supports all of our local sports teams and all that they do to empower our community through physical activity. In the case of any sports accidents, then remember that The Colony ER Hospital is open 24/7, even on holidays, and treats pediatric or adult patients.
This blog is written by Maggie Berardo, content writer at Nutex Health.
Nutex Health, Inc supports you and your family’s health. You can depend on The Colony Emergency Room Hospital or any one of our concierge-level, freestanding emergency facilities to deliver the emergency care you deserve, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.