Nowadays, due to digitalization and developed media and video games, very few children are actively involved in sports. Virtual life in many children takes precedence over sports and other activities. For some, it is unthinkable to spend time outdoors and even parents are not aware of the benefits of exercise to children. This could eventually result in a generation of unhealthy, obese and introverted children.
Most parents want to encourage children to play sports to help them feel valued. Any child can be successful in any sport. However, one has to be patient in choosing sports because the goal is for the child to love what it does and not to develop aversion to sports. So choose carefully and allow your child to direct you towards what might be of its interest.
No other thing in life gives children such an opportunity to develop positive character traits and imbue many quality values as sports do. When children are involved in activities that are in line with their particular interests, their psychosocial development improves. Not only do they learn a variety of useful skills, they learn to express themselves, embark on a journey of self-discovery, and grow into an adult with an authentic array of characteristics and values.
The most important contribution of sport is certainly the enhancement of the physical, mental and psychosocial development of children.
Body composition and weight
The study found that children engaged in more vigorous physical activity had more muscle and less body fat. Keeping in mind that an organism with more muscle mass burns more calories. It is not surprising that participating in physical activities and sports reduces the risk of being overweight.
Building a healthy heart
Exercising with regular physical activity lowers your body weight, which can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. One study found that high school seniors who played sports regularly had significantly better cardiovascular fitness than children who exclusively participated in physical education as part of their classes. On the other hand, it is important to keep in mind that adherence to good eating habits is crucial for maintaining a healthy heart and fit body.
Exercising can also have a positive impact on bone health. Engaging in vigorous physical activity over a long period of time improves bone mineral density, especially in girls.
Being on the sports team gives the kids a new social circle outside of school. It’s an opportunity to make new friendships, some of which can last a lifetime. Also, their communication and interactions are far richer than those they get by simply sending SMS through social media. They win together, compete among themselves, lose and face defeat together. Playing sports teaches valuable lessons in teamwork, such as placing yourself elsewhere for the benefit of the entire team. All this gives the children a new sense of community and belonging.
Learning how to lose
Learning to accept and cope with defeat is an important lesson in life. The nature of sports is such that there are always winners and losers. The experience of being first or second is valuable. It is inevitable that there will be more cases when children leave the game defeated, but it is important to help them understand that the loss should not be ashamed. By learning to control and understand their emotions after losing, children can build resilience that can help them in their lives. After all, life brings many obstacles, and learning how to be dignified in defeat and getting up after a fall are lessons that sport can teach us very well.
On the sports field, special rules may apply which will set new authorities such as coaches or other senior individuals. Following the rules requires discipline and respect for decisions made by more experienced and skilled others. Compliance with the rules and regulations is the basis of good interaction and cooperation in any sport. Also, discipline in training is a necessary part of success. Constructive criticism is a big part of sports and is a major ingredient in developing the skills you need. Children learn to respect authority even when they disagree with it, as they see their skills develop and improve. In this way, sport introduces a new figure of authority for children, other than parents and teachers, that can help them develop healthy.
Developing persistence, dedication and patience
Through competition, children can develop motivation to improve and avoid defeat. By working hard at all times and staying focused on their goal, children build perseverance and learn the importance of patience. Eventually they realize that hard work pays off.
This also applies to life in general. Achieving something requires commitment and perseverance over a long period of time. There is evidence that long-term commitment to the sport has a positive effect on children’s behavior in the classroom. They usually have similar principles of commitment, perseverance and patience that they learn through sports and apply in a school setting. All of the above, like interactions with peers, commitment to training and teamwork, affect the behavior of the child and in the school classroom. In this sense, sport is able to advance the educational aspirations of children and create pathways to educational success.
Building a healthy adult
Physically active children grow into physically active adults. We have seen that sport is a great way to prevent several chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, obesity, osteoporosis, etc. So, playing sports in childhood is a key element in developing and maintaining good health and providing a longer life.
Participation in sports can be helpful for children’s self-esteem, although they may not necessarily be good at it. Words of praise from a coach for successfully completing a workout or winning a game, support from teammates after a great game are all ways of building confidence in one’s abilities and developing a sense of self-confidence.
On the other hand, it is important for children to focus on how much they enjoy a particular sport, not whether they will win or lose in the game. If they become overly competitive and their self-esteem depends only on winning, they run the risk of losing their confidence. For this reason, parents play an important role in encouraging children to play sports for fun and enjoyment, and not necessarily to win every single game.
A mood-enhancing sport
Sport is generally a positive emotional experience, and physical activity gives children a good feeling. This effect of mood swings in sports is not only short-lived. If they do something they love and enjoy regularly, it will give their children more energy and a lasting sense of well-being. Participating in sports a few days a week leads to happier kids every day of the week. There is even research suggesting that people who are not active are more depressed than those who maintain an exercise regimen. Sports can be a protective factor for certain clinical mental health disorders, such as depression. It also protects a range of risky behaviors that are prevalent in adolescence, such as tobacco or illegal substances.
Development of character traits
Children’s character and moral principles are formed through fair play. Moreover, children who are active in sports can be good role models to their peers from school, neighborhood, or even the school choir, and inspire them to play sports as well. When children learn positive life lessons through sports, they will become honest, trustworthy adults who will at all times try to help others in need. Furthermore, sports bring together people from all over the world, which helps the child learn to accept all people without prejudice to their nationality, creed, culture or skin color.
Role of parents
If you have difficulty encouraging children to play sports, you need to set an example by doing some exercises at home or by becoming more physically active in some other way. Also, try to increase their interest by exploring and playing some game or sport with them.
Do not constantly impose a sport on them and talk about how good it is for them, but let the child understand it. It is also important to allow your child to discover and explore other interesting things besides sports, but make sure that he or she does not neglect other responsibilities (such as homework) because your children may be over-investing in sports or other hobbies.
We cannot emphasize enough how important it is NOT to set unrealistic expectations and hard-to-reach goals from the beginning. Children should participate in sports not for immediate success and results, but to develop their physical and intellectual skills. Otherwise, forcing a child to play sports can create a counter-effect and, as a result, create aversion to sports in general.
Instead, let your child get used to the sport first, embrace it and like it so that the sport can become part of daily life. Results, achievements, medals and awards will be important later on as the child learns to put in a lot of hard work, discipline and sacrifice to succeed.
As long as your child is involved in sports activities, it is in a world where it is striving to be as good as possible. The child will learn how to overcome all obstacles and challenges that will come his way. Therefore, encourage your child to take up the habit of playing sports from a young age.
Also read: 15 beneficial impacts of pets on health
Irena is a dentist from Croatia, working extensively in her field, but she also has a high interest in the fields of fitness, nutrition and medicine in general. She has been educating herself about how to lead a healthy lifestyle for years. She seeks to help people adopt healthy habits as well as healthy and positive thinking about life. In her spare time, she hikes, runs, plays saxophone and guitar, and develops her own websites – Salubrius Vita and GoalDigger. Her life motto is: When they expect a lot from you, you do even more.