This is another guest post from our good friend Crista Nezhni on the value that can be gained from different forms of sports for kids. If you have a child and are unsure as to what kind of sport he or she should participate in, this article should be very interesting!
Team or Individual Sports
In today’s virtual society, many children’s reality exists around hours of television and video games. In an increasingly digital world, what is the value of having your children involved in sports? Athletics are a wonderful option to partake in, especially to aid children in ridding some of their excess energy. In turn, parents get the benefit of a semi-break.
A question I frequently hear from parents is “Should I involve my child in a team sport or a solo activity?” There are quite a few factors to discern regarding both choices. One thing that must be considered is whether he or she has any emotional difficulties, such as social anxiety or autism. If this is the case, the child’s level of focus in a group activity may be in response to his or her symptoms. Another important factor to think about is whether or not the child has other means of learning age-appropriate socialization skills: if he or she has a sibling, is in daycare, or engage in frequent play dates with other children their age.
This decision does not come with a black and white answer. Every single child is unique and has his or her own personality and preferences. That being said, there are some universal pros and cons of team sports and individual physical activities. A few of these are outlined below:
Advantages of team sports for kids
- Socialization benefits, including sharing the spotlight, time, and equipment for the sport. It also allows children to meet new people more easily.
- Being part of a community fosters accountability. Hopefully, your child will gain a sense of loyalty to his or her team.
- If your child learns visually, he or she can gain insight through the actions of others in the group.
- Team sports may teach leadership skills.
- Children can find a sense of belonging or self-actualization through this activity.
Disadvantages of team sports for kids
- Difficulties for children with emotional difficulties (see disclaimer above).
- Children may resent attending practices and games if they have too many demands on their time and energy.
- Less individual direct supervision for each child from a coach or instructor.
- There may be pressure put on the child due to teammate’s expectations, leading to increased stress.
- Parents and children aren’t able to make their own schedule to participate in these activities; they must adhere to the team’s schedule.
Advantages of solo sports and working out:
- Independence and self-reliance are cultivated through working alone since success and failure is in his or her own hands.
- Increased possibility for one on one coaching, which could lead to more skill building in a short period of time.
- There is no need for the child to wait for other teammates to play, attempt a new technique, or work with certain equipment.
- More freedom is provided for the child to create a personal style and form in regards to the chosen recreational pursuit.
Disadvantages of independent exercise:
- No age-appropriate socialization skills for the child to pick up on.
- A child may become entitled or develop the need for instant gratification if they aren’t forced to share or play as a team.
- Goals must be established by the child; therefore, a child with poor self-motivation won’t accomplish much.
- Increased pressure on the child to perform with no one to assist him or her.
- Lack of camaraderie and tribal cohesion compared to team sports.
Regardless of the choice you make, structured exercise and sports for kids provide a multitude of benefits that you may already be aware of. Sports take hard work and dedication; for me, a major lesson obtained through sports is that any realistic goal is possible. I learned that saying “I can’t” makes you react to that belief rather than push forward and keep trying. Confidence and self-esteem are gained by implementing new techniques learned by engaging in sports, whether independently or as a team. The body, mind, and spirit (or whatever you choose to call it) work together best when each aspect is being actively engaged. If your child competes, preservation may be gained and performance anxiety has the chance to be quashed early on.
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