Benefits of Organized Sports in Early Childhood Years
Soccer, swimming, softball, and tennis—getting involved in youth sports is a rite of passage for many early childhood children, enabling them to learn range of developmental skills. Picking the best sport and providing the right level of encouragement can be a challenge, but with a little research, you will find the sports program that best fits your child.
Top 10 Research-Based Benefits for Young Children
According to Stanford Children's Health, sports have a range of physical, emotional, and interpersonal benefits:
Better vision: young children who spend time outdoors playing, especially organized sports, are less likely to develop vision issues.
Healthy weight: kids who are more active, especially after school, are more likely to stay healthy with regulated weight.
Gross-Motor Skills: sports participation helps with balance, coordination, and learning new physical skills.
Social-Emotional Skills: playing on a team means learning to work with others, taking turns, and supporting them.
Self-Confidence: success as part of a team member and young athlete builds confidence and persistence.
Safety: encourage the child to try a variety of movements in a safe, positive environment to build solid foundation of self-regulation for child's later years in life.
Sportsmanship: learning the rules of the game, respect coaches, and how to remain positive even when losing are all valuable life lessons outside of classroom environment.
Fun and enjoyment: mutual joy and one-on-one interaction that happens during sports play can manage the body's stress response.
Friendship: stable and nurturing relationships that buffer against stress or anxiety in order to build social-emotional resilience.
Resilience: learn how to lead and negotiate with other peers to reach a common goal.
Deciding on Safe Age-Appropriate Sports
Choosing the best sports program for your child is easier when he or she already has a passion or a talent for a particular sport. Some communities might only offer a few sports to choose from, but if your town has multiple options or if your youngster is open to trying a new activity, consider first the age, health safety, and physical ability of your child to decide on a sport.
It's important to find a sports program that matches your child's abilities. Can your child accomplish with the level of competition he or she may face? If your child has special health challenges (e.g. ADHD, asthma, or environmental allergies) ask if the sports organization can accommodate your child's needs. In many local communities, coaches are parents just like you, so they might ask for support on further information to take care of your child.
Being the Role Model
Once your child is part of a sports program, always remember that you are an important model for your child. Find ways to stay positive during competition. Discuss any concerns you might have about coaching style, teammate behavior, or other teams in private with the coaches.
Many parents want most is for own children to have fun and be successful at their chosen sport, but the keys to enjoying the sports experiences lie in their hands—first by helping them choosing the right sport and then by being a good role model for sportsmanship and commitment.