The Significance of “Child’s Play”: How Sports Improve Child Development

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Giving children the opportunity to participate in sports allows them to develop mental and social skills that can transfer to life beyond the sport itself. However, in our tech-heavy society, getting outdoors and being active can seem like the last thing on your child’s agenda in terms of “fun.” So why not embrace technology, such as motion sensors and metrics, to make sports more enticing to your children? Keeping your children involved in sports can do wonders for their development; see for yourself in the benefits below:

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How Do Sports Help Children Develop?

Perhaps the most obvious benefits of encouraging children’s sports are the physical aspects. Children who participate in sports have lower levels of obesity, diabetes, and other physical health issues. In addition to the physical benefits, children playing sports learn social, emotional, and mental skills that work in several arenas of life.

By playing sports, children learn the value of working with others. The idea of working with others encompasses a variety of skills. In a team, people have to learn and practice leadership and cooperation. Teams also encourage communication between members and coaching staff, as well as working within systems and with authorities. In these sports, children can practice respect for themselves and others, which also encourages mental well-being and mutual respect.
Determination and perseverance are additional skills children learn while playing in a team. In a team, children can learn and practice the process of setting a goal and working to achieve it. Children learn to work toward overcoming obstacles in a safer environment where failures are not that serious. In sports situations, children learn to keep trying and to plan different ways to achieve a goal. By seeing a plan through, children also learn what mastery of a skill is. When children learn they are capable of one skill, they feel independent and capable of learning more skills, which increases what they can offer to society at large.

Sports programs also give children a chance to develop social connections and support networks. This is especially true for disadvantaged children who may not have family or neighborhood support to use for development. Playing on teams allows children to interact with people their own age as well as authority figures, which increases the kinds of support children have. Sports can allow children to build confidence and accept a more positive self-identity. Allowing a more accepting and complex self-identity also increases the likelihood of these children contributing to society in productive ways.

Sport teams associated with schools are also important to child development. For some children, participating in a sports team can be what keeps them engaged and excited to go to school. When children are in school, they also have access to more people who can provide help, stability, and guidance that not all children have at home. Finishing education is vital to improving socioeconomic status and breaking cycles of abuse and poverty. Moreover, evidence shows a link between physical activity and increased levels of concentration and better classroom behavior. Encouraging children to stay in sports and school also lessens the likelihood of these children becoming involved in violent activities or drug use.

How Can Adults Maximize the Benefits of Youth Sports?

Adults are vital to developing and maintaining youth sports programs. By encouraging sports programs, adults create these opportunities for children. To truly promote a positive and impactful experience for these kids; adults need to be fully engaged and approach the sports program with a whole person mindset, remembering the child’s needs.

Perhaps one of the most important issues to remember is the need to stress that sports are not the only important area in a child’s life. This means that instead of focusing on winning at all costs, adults need to encourage good sportsmanship, healthy behaviors, and learning. Praising growth and effort in sports can go a long way in helping a child develop. Additionally, forcing children to do sports they have no interest in negates the beneficial aspects of sports. By providing a variety of activities, children can choose ones they are interested in. Adult coaches, parents, and volunteers also need to consider a child’s age and ability before assigning tasks. For example, younger children prefer shorter, but more frequent, bursts of activity. Encouraging mastery of basic skills, such as running, jumping or dance, allows the children to develop skills they can carry into other activities.

Coaches are entrusted with more than the task of teaching a game; they also have to be supportive people to the children and the community as a whole. Children benefit greatly from coaches who encourage academic achievement and provide emotional support. These coaches need to emphasize that the children are not just athletes, but they are students, community members, and future leaders.
Parents and community members are also important to maintaining a healthy environment for children to learn and develop. Having parents and community members involved can add even more safety and learning opportunities. Much like coaches, parents need to remember that the focus for these kinds of activities is not winning, but personal development and growth. Community leaders can also use children’s sports to encourage social cohesion between adults and children. By emphasizing the community as a whole rather than a collection of individuals, leaders encourage community interactions and togetherness.

Aside from the physical benefits of sports, children can also learn how to interact with other people, work on self-improvement, and stick with a goal in difficult times. Community leaders, parents, and coaches are vital to guiding children in a positive and beneficial manner.

Contributed By: Blast Motion for the Healthy Moms Magazine.

Based in Carlsbad, California, Blast Motion is defining the future of personalized motion capture technology. By seamlessly identifying and integrating real-time motion metrics with video highlights, Blast Motion innovations create a contextually rich user experience that enhances the way people capture, share and compare life’s actions. For more information visit blastmotion.com.

The Significance of “Child’s Play”: How Sports Improve Child Development
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