Raising kids can be both a test of resolve and an exercise in patience. Then add on top a sense of guilt as to whether you are doing the best job possible preparing your kids for life, and there you have parenting in a nutshell. While we as parents do often carry the weight of having to be responsible for these little people, there are things we can do to both lighten the load and help share some of that responsibility for equipping them with the skills for success.
One of those people that can help is named “coach.”
That’s right, sports can have a significant impact on kids’ development and take some of the pressure off of you to teach them everything. In the first part of our two part series on the benefits of sports, we explore some of the physical and mental benefits of having your kids take part in a competitive sport.
Kids can be physically awkward. This tendency to constantly be bumping into things, knocking things down (and usually having them fall on to your new carpet), as well as being generally unaware of their body, is a result of them still growing, and as they continue to develop they are feeling out their constantly changing bodies.
Sports often help by teaching your kids spatial awareness and balance. Most sports require kids to go through endless drills that give them an understanding of both their body and how to use their body in space. They understand their reach, and through pushups, stretches, and combined physical activities, they also learn how heavy or light they are, and how to better shift their weight.
To make it even better for your glassware and cabinets, they learn how to react to objects, so there is a higher likelihood of them catching themselves or catching your glass before it hits the floor.
Having a better sense of their bodies, and how to balance their bodies, can combine to give your child more confidence going through both school and life. Fewer embarrassing falls or accidents, and more confidence in their own skin.
Communicating Under Stress
The essence of communicating, with yourself or with your teammates, when you are losing is a skill that is easiest learned through sports and can last a lifetime.
When everything is on the line, what do you tell yourself? How do you deal with it? What do you tell others? This is what many athletes learn from their coaches, and it goes on to serve them throughout their lives.
It’s Not Just About Them
Especially as kids grow up, they have a tendency to get used to all of the attention they have received over the years (especially if they do not have several brothers or sisters to constantly antagonize them…or if they are the youngest). This means that they can sometimes get a little too “self-oriented” and not actively think about others, or care about how their actions affect others. Enrolling them in a sport is a perfect way to counteract some of this.
Especially if they are a part of a team sport, your child will have to get used to working together with teammates to accomplish their collective goal of winning. They will associate the positive feelings and emotions associated with winning, with the need to work with others to achieve that.
Throughout the seasons they realize that they must learn how to communicate with those teammates if they want to win, and are exposed to lots of different types of backgrounds and personality types that they can learn to communicate with.
Learning to communicate with various types of people from different backgrounds can give your child a leg up, especially considering that there are still many adults who have not yet been challenged to have to learn interpersonal interactions.
How do you know you have more in you left to give if you are not pushed to dig deep and find a place to pull from?
One of the most important things that playing sports does for kids is teach them what it means to really want something, and what it takes to get it. Getting what you want in life is rarely easy, so the sooner they can be prepared for the fight to get it, the better off they will be. Fortunately, they will have a team of coaches and fellow players there to motivate them to push themselves through the discomfort and past what feels good, as well as to instill a lifelong understanding of what they need to do to reach that place where they are giving all they can.
Upper Room strives to create a positive space for youth, with high-quality, educational out-of-school programs that actively engage them to think differently. Learn more about our after-school and summer programs.
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