Health care providers place a growing emphasis on physical fitness for kids. One way for children to stay healthy is to play sports. In addition to providing physical activity, sports also help children develop social skills and practice teamwork. However, tough competition and pressure to fit too much into an already packed schedule are reasons for kids to shy away from sports. It is important to review the pros and cons of sports for kids before deciding if signing your child up is the right choice.
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If your child plays a team sport, he will quickly learn the art of sportsmanship, sharing credit and sharing responsibility. The website Education.com claims that being part of a team helps a child learn to think about doing what is best for the group as opposed to focusing only on himself. Children on teams discover the positive feelings associated with cheering others on and feeling proud of teammates' accomplishments, as well as their own.
Many kids find stress relief on the field. KidsHealth.com explains that when people exercise or play sports, the brain releases chemicals that improve their moods. If your child is feeling pressure in the classroom, sports may be the answer. Sports are also fun. Playing on a team with friends is a fun way to take a break from the pressures kids feel in school. But trying to fit sports practice and competition into an already packed schedule can have the opposite effect, creating more stress for your child, and not leaving enough time for creative play, family time and homework.
Too Much Pressure
Not all kids find relief from stress on the field; some actually feel more stress there. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry cautions that the highly competitive world of collegiate and professional sports has carried over into the children’s sports arena. Some coaches, parents and even kids put too much emphasis on winning. This can be too stressful for some children, and may even steer them away from sports. Consider your child’s personality and her ability to handle stress before allowing her to participate on a team.
Some children don't recognize when they need a break, or are too shy to ask for one. For example, children don’t handle hot weather as well as adults do. They don’t sweat as much as adults, and they produce more heat. They also often drink less than they should, and could be vulnerable to dehydration. Injuries are also a risk that comes with any sport. Make sure your child is appropriately equipped to minimize injury and maximize the positive aspects of sports play.