Children all over the world are finding confidence and self-esteem in the sports they love. Whether it’s football, cricket or gymnastics, there is a sport for every child out there. Sports are a fantastic starting point for a child to give them the skills they need for the rest of their lives – but these don’t always come easy!
One of the biggest, and perhaps hardest, skills for a child to learn is how to be a ‘good sport’. Nobody likes accepting defeat, nobody likes having to share, and for a lot of children, the idea that you can’t always win is something that can be difficult to get their head around. Many a parent have experienced the tantrums and tears because of this.
Getting your child into sports earlier can very quickly have a positive impact on this.
To start with, sports for young people are well monitored and controlled, giving your child a chance to deal with these strong emotions in a safe environment. And it’s a constant. Whilst the school system does allow for this kind of growth, your child is not confronted with these experiences often. If they are outspoken, chances are that even in a group they will be the louder voice. Every day children have their work marked and merited based on their own skills. But in sports, whilst there is still positive encouragement to build personal skills, you are also rated on how well you work together.
Group sports, such as football and basketball, where you have to work as a team encourage communication between youngsters. They must work together to find the best strategy for success. It doesn’t matter what the coach says – they can only teach a child so much about a sport – if the student is not taking on the advice, they won’t find success.
Winning and losing is something that will be experienced a lot in competitive sports, as you would expect. The wins are fantastic. They are an adrenaline high, a confidence boost, full of excitement and that wonderful feeling of being good at something. Here, you will see your child bloom into someone who is aware of their own strengths and with those positive feelings, there will be a connection to teamwork and the successes that can come from that.
Communication is incredibly powerful when it comes to maintaining a positive attitude, as to verbalise can make words more powerful. Mantras can become strong beliefs in children just like they can in adults. In addition, you also have the power of peer evaluation. It has been found that children respond better to feedback from their peers than from the adults around them. One positive comment can encourage another child to keep going, which can then empower another, and another, until you have a team of determined players, all supporting each other, all doing their best.
These are fantastic qualities for your child to develop that will help them grow as people.
But with winning, naturally, there are losses. Here, you might see dark clouds above your child’s head and tears in their eyes, or frustration in their steps because they wanted it so badly. A powerful lesson can be learned. Maybe it will be about teamwork – maybe they were working for themselves and now they can see the consequence of that. Maybe it is the strength of another team. Maybe it was just a bad day, a bad game, something that couldn’t be controlled.
It’s here where your words and your actions as a parent will have the most impact. Be aware of what you say, how you react. It’s not about winning or losing, but instead about teaching your child to find the positives, to pick themselves up and move forward even better than before.
And they will go back to their team, or go back to their practice, with their heads high and ready to push themselves further, to encourage each other to improve.
There are numerous benefits to a child playing a sport, from physical health to confidence building, but arguably, the most important is that positive attitude. It is something that will stay with them for the entirety of their lives, helping them cope with good work, with the highs and the lows of life – and it all starts with just one sport.