Oh, to be a kid again. Remember playing outside, carefree with your friends? You’d stay out until dark, dreading the sound of your mother’s voice calling you inside for dinner.
Those fond memories will stay with you forever, but unfortunately, today’s children no longer have the luxury of unsupervised, outside playtime. Modern-day crime rates, child predators, and young bullies often keep kids out of the park, off the neighborhood basketball court and away from the joys of just being a kid. However, encouraging your child to get involved in team sports can make a world of difference in their or her daily life.
Exercise is Essential
A number of factors keep kids from getting regular physical activity these days. Whether it’s budget cuts at school, forcing PE classes to fall by the wayside, or the prevalence and (perceived) necessity of electronic devices, kids are getting less and less activity every year. Not surprisingly, child obesity rates are up, too.
In fact, as of 2018, the CDC reported that nearly 19 percent of children and adolescents under the age of 18 were overweight or obese — which translates to nearly 14 million children! In just 10 years, that number has climbed 10 percent.
Exercise is critical for your child’s ongoing health and wellness. How can you encourage regular exercise? Through sports! Sports strengthen your child’s bones, build their muscle mass, strengthen their heart and help maintain a normal body composition.
Plus, regular exercise helps your child’s brain release feel-good endorphins, helping them feel happier on a daily basis! According to Greene Broillet & Wheeler, dehydration is a major risk for young athletes. Always be prepared with adequate water and electrolyte-infused beverages to ensure your child performs their best.
Studies have found that your child’s self-esteem is already very well established by the age of five; however, you can help them build on that with regular team-building activities like group sports! Through sports, your child develops mastery of a skill set, allowing them to build confidence as they improve.
Building strength and endurance also bolsters children’s self-esteem as they learn how to control their bodies and use them to perform complex tasks. And, while youth sports are more about comradery than competition, winning a game can work wonders for building self-confidence.
Encourages Lifelong Habits
According to Michigan State University, team sports encourage your child to develop lifelong healthy habits like regular exercise, healthy eating and getting adequate sleep. Due to the physically demanding nature of most team sports, your child learns how to cope with physical stressors by unconsciously optimizing their daily routine.
You can only tell your child to eat their vegetables so many times before your words start falling on deaf ears. However, if your child understands that healthy eating will help them perform better during their next game, you can bet you’ll notice changes in their day-to-day eating habits.
The same idea applies to sleep. Sports are tiring, so instead of staying up late playing their favorite video game, your child will naturally nod off at an appropriate hour. And, because endorphins produce a sort of natural “high,” your child will quickly get used to the feel-good reaction they get after a bout of intense exercise.
Eventually, they’ll even begin to seek out more physical activity to replicate the feeling. Because many health-related habits become ingrained during childhood, these beneficial tendencies often continue through adulthood.
Encourages a Regular Routine
Youth sports encourage early routine development—something research has demonstrated can persist even into adulthood. As an adult, your routine governs your day. It gives you stability and helps you be more efficient with your time. And just like your routine helps keep you on track, a routine will help your child, too.
According to Edutopia, sports help your child develop valuable time-management skills, decision-making skills, and collaborative skills that will help them grow as a person, not to mention, provide them a valuable advantage through adolescence and into adulthood.
Team sports are a fantastic addition to your child’s life for a wide variety of reasons. Not only do they encourage physical development, but they improve mental, emotional and cognitive development as well. Talk to your child about the importance of getting involved in a team sport. You might be surprised at what a difference it can make in both of your lives!
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