Today, our children are exposed to all kinds of sports. No matter where we live, there are so many sports to choose from, be it soccer, volleyball, basketball, tennis, baseball, flag football, or others. As mothers, we know how important it is to get kids involved, not only for their physical health but also for their mental wellbeing.
My friend Mary Carmen tells me that her daughter Sophia, 10, plays volleyball and flag football –a less contact-oriented form of football. “Personally, I think the sport helps the child learn to be more disciplined, better focused and understand the importance of exercise,” says Mary Carmen. “Besides, playing sports helps the child sleep better as they are more tired out, they’ll learn to play as a team and be more accountable, and improve their self-esteem.”
At my friend Chickie’s house, their little boys play various sports. “For me, it’s important that they learn sportsmanship, to be a part of a team, and the value of leadership and responsibility. All these [values] are related to organized sports, and every child should participate.”
The Mayo Clinic, a global non-profit leader in research and studies in the field of medicine, recommends that parents take into account the age, size, maturity and ability of the child when they are interested in participating in any organized sport. It’s also recommended to be sure that the child enjoys the activity and has enough opportunities to practice.
“Obviously, sports help children to be more active and exercise,” says mom-of-two Erin. “It’s important to me that my daughters, [ages] 8 and 9, understand the meaning of competition and teamwork.”
In soccer, for example, a gifted athlete has to learn to pass the ball, rely on the other players and be where they should be. It’s not easy, and it’s very common to want to be “the star” of the team.
Erin says that being involved in soccer has helped her daughters mature, and she’s seen a growing level of leadership in the school and on the field.
As parents, no matter the sport we choose, we must give equal weight to how hard our kids work, to their measured improvement, and to fun instead of winning. We must be positive and encourage our children, instead of forcing them or criticizing them. And above all, we must set a good example and show good sportsmanship at all times.
And remember, no matter the sport or physical activity your child practices, the goal is that they learn that exercise should be part of their daily routine for life.