Sport is a great source of learning for children. Thanks to him, they exercise a wide range of values and become familiar with new situations.
Sports practice has beneficial effects for both the physical health and the emotional development and socialization of children and adolescents, since it improves their psychomotor skills and strengthens them, while having fun, interacting with other children and increasing their self-esteem. Parents sometimes place a high value on knowledge learning and revision activities that reinforce homework, without taking into account that good motor development and good physical ability are part of the overall development of the child.
Sport should therefore be considered as an activity that encourages physical maturation and the improvement of the overall health of the child, apart from contributing to their fun and sharing pleasant moments with their friends.
The range of sports activities that children can do today is so wide that parents have many doubts to decide which is the most appropriate. Sometimes the child himself feels a clear preference for a specific sport, but this is not always the case.
HOW TO CHOOSE A SUCCESSFUL SPORT?
What should not be taken into account in advance is sex, since today there are teams for both sexes and many of them, especially in the case of the youngest, are shared.
It is more important to think about the age of the children, their personality and their abilities, and make a decision among all that respects the interests of the children. That parents are interested in a particular sport should not condition the choice.
It is also advisable to make an analysis of the possibilities of the parents, both in terms of their availability of schedules and the family finances, since some sports may exceed the planned budget.
At an indicative level, three large groups of sports can be established:
- They demand a schedule, discipline and training. Many, such as football, basketball or handball, tend to start in schools as one more extracurricular activity and help to promote the bond between peers. If the children like it, they can be followed in external clubs, but then the level of competitiveness and demand multiplies. Other sports of this nature are tennis, judo, athletics or rhythmic gymnastics.
- Sports should not always be thought of as a regulated activity exclusively for children. It can also be done in a family way, enjoying a healthy practice that fosters relationships between parents and children. Some examples are: cycling regularly in the countryside or the city, hiking, going to the swimming pool. In these cases, since interaction is the most important thing, parents should not become coaches of their children but rather companions of play and fun.
- Educational Although all sports must have an educational aspect, there are those whose fundamental mission is to promote the physical development of children, while helping them to acquire good health and hygiene habits. We refer above all to physical education and psychomotor activities that are taught at school. The role of parents is important in these activities, because sometimes there is a risk of downplaying them and excusing the presence of children at gymnastics or swimming pool, when their participation should be encouraged, especially in those children who do not engage in any sports activities outside of school.
A SPORT FOR EVERY AGE AND PERSONALITY
A young child cannot be required to perform certain practices for which his body is not prepared. Therefore, it will be necessary to take their age into account when choosing a physical activity.
DURING THE EARLY YEARS
Massages are excellent for the baby, as they relax him, make him feel calmer and give him the first bodily sensations.
The most advisable activity is swimming, which at the beginning they practice with the parents in specialized pools and later with instructors.
BETWEEN 5 AND 8 YEARS
During this stage it is advisable that children can start in a sports school that facilitates the practice of different sports throughout the course, even combining group sports such as soccer, volleyball, basketball, etc. with other individuals such as various martial arts, tennis, etc.
This initiation will help them both to practice a physical activity and to gradually opt for a specific sport, but starting from the basis that they have practice and know more than one.
FROM 8 YEARS
At these ages, it is necessary to choose what type of sport to carry out and whether it will be done as a mere diversion or as a more competitive activity, with the implications that this entails.
No choice has to be final, although once made, parents have to demand a minimum of commitment from their children.
In any case, it is advisable to take into account the character and personality of the child when making any such choice.
Team sports generate less tension since the game is the responsibility of all the members, they also instill values such as companionship and friendship and, therefore, are more advisable for insecure children and with some difficulty in relationships.
In any case, sport cannot be considered as therapy, since, if it is difficult for a child to integrate into a group, the level of competitiveness at certain ages is such that it can damage their self-esteem.
In children with great self-control, self-assurance, and easy to bear frustration, individual sports may be appropriate in which all responsibility falls on themselves and there are high expectations placed on them.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE ROLE OF PARENTS
Parents’ attitude towards sports is very important and has a significant impact on their children.
When the parents do not practice any sport and do not value that activity, if the child does not have a good physical condition and psychomotor skills, it will hardly be possible to see that sport as something positive.
An opposite case is that of the father who is passionate about a sport who wants to instill it in his son at all costs, even if it is not to his liking. It will then be easy for the child to hate this activity, abandon it or not even start it.
On the other hand, parents must be aware of the commitment that the whole family acquires when a child decides to play a sport at a more or less competitive level. It is an important time commitment –training, competitions, travel– and economic, since they generally have to take care of some fees and the purchase of clothing and equipment.
But they must also make their children fulfill that responsibility by having them participate in all team activities and without excusing them for any reason.
Parents must understand that even if their children participate in some competition, it is a children’s sport. Therefore, this test is not comparable to adult sports and even less to professional ones.
Their mission must therefore be limited to keeping them motivated, responsible and self-confident, without wishing for their victory at any cost. Therefore, if your children compete, it is convenient that:
- Just be their parents and not be second coaches.
- Always show a positive attitude, listening to what they say about their practice, supporting and motivating them.
- Avoid making criticisms or disqualifying judgments in front of the children because of the type of preparation, the coach’s decisions or the results, since, as in any competition, there are as many coaches as there are observers.
- Do not become aggressive fans when they witness some competition of their children; It is one thing to encourage them and another to insult or disrespect any player, be it from the opposing team or their own, or the referee.
- Comment on the behavior and discipline of children from the human point of view and not from a strictly sporting approach.
- If it is considered that the actions of the team leaders are not suitable for the education of the children, they should be discussed with them and, if necessary, look for another alternative.
BETWEEN THE GAME AND THE COMPETITION
The human being is competitive by nature and the social and sporting models that children see have a high degree of rivalry. Therefore, since they are little, they tend to want to stand out.
If when children draw, learn to read or simply jump on a slide they want to be the best, let alone when they have a ball between their feet and they feel like perfect imitators of their sports idols.
Parents must consider that this rivalry is natural in children and is part of their evolutionary process; and although they should not favor it, neither is it a matter of systematically repressing it.
SPORT IS A CONSTRUCTIVE WAY OF DEALING WITH THE UNEXPECTED
In a competition there is always room for surprise and it is difficult to know the result in advance. That is why the participants must exercise a series of psychophysical skills and react in the most effective way possible.
Throughout childhood it is not so much about educating children for sport as about ensuring that sport itself serves as a means of education. The objective is to achieve good physical health and also to experiment and acquire a series of attitudes that extend beyond sports practice.
Some of the most important values that a child can acquire with sport are:
- Rules. They have to follow a series of rules of the game in which it is clear what they can and cannot do. This is useful for children who find it difficult to follow rules and limits at home or at school, as it is a way of gaining discipline and practically checking that their actions have consequences.
- I respect. They learn to feel and show respect for others; Given that their own intervention in the game will not always be successful, they understand that their teammates can also fail, which improves their capacity for empathy, that is, knowing how to appreciate the feelings of the other.
- Emotional education. Through sport the child experiences a wide range of emotions: the taste of victory, the bitterness of defeat, the harshness of frustration, the value of effort.
- Habits They learn healthy eating and hygiene habits.
- Self-control. They learn to control themselves, since they will find themselves in many adverse situations in which it will be necessary to maintain control of themselves. That can be extrapolated outside of sport.
- Teamwork. They learn to work responsibly and in collaboration with their teammates, since achievements are always the result of that collective work and not just individual actions, which helps facilitate their social integration and personal relationships.