Improving Child Development Through Sports

By Aprel Phelps-Downey ·

Child development through sports provides your child with a toolbox of skills. For example, a soccer game is more than just watching your child run down the field chasing after the ball. They are actually developing patience and dedication to a sport that captures their interest. The skills they gain in sports and child development could lead them to the corporate boardroom of a company. This example only scratches the surface of the benefits that come from child development through sports.

Sports and Child Development

The benefits your child stands to gain by participating in a sport extends beyond just being physically active. They gain the opportunity to understand the importance of teamwork and how that works to accomplish team goals. They will learn the values associated with respecting authority, resiliency, and determination. The greatest benefit they will gain from playing sports is the value of friendship.

Being part of a team helps your child to feel that they belong within a group of their peers, and that will help boost their self-confidence. They now have a social support system that sticks with them off the field and that will reduce anxiety when making new friends at school. Recognizing their teammates' familiar faces will be a source of support and encouragement.

Child development through sports also focuses on difficult moments. Every game will not end in a team victory. At that moment, their love for the game will face a challenge. Their reactions to the loss can be positive or negative. Being on a team will teach them the importance of losing gracefully and controlling their emotions. Maintaining their composure when facing adversity is an essential emotional skill that is applicable in their life both now and moving forward.

Finding the Right Sport(s)

With the benefits of child development through sports in mind, you can focus on the task of finding the right activity for your child. Start by matching the sports in your area to the interests of your child. Narrow your list down to one or two possibilities that your child likes and go to the next game.

As you’re watching the game, observe the coaching staff see how they interact with the players. Talking to team parents will give you an idea of the expectations required of your family as part of the team. Ask about the schedule for practices, game days and the duration of both. That will help you determine if your child can take on the responsibilities of joining a team. Some team’s travel extensively from tournament to tournament. Check in with your children (and yourself) to make sure everyone can handle that level of competition. Is this lifestyle choice feasible for your child’s emotional state?

Each of these is important factors to consider when making your decision. Another component to consider is the competitive nature of the team, what are their objectives, and will this team sport be a positive experience for your child. It is best to allow your child to make the final decision about which sport they will play. They also need to be comfortable with the team. Otherwise, they will struggle on the team, which may impact their confidence and lead to them wanting to quit before giving the sport a chance.

How to Support a Child Athlete

When your child finds the right sport for them, you need to take an active role on the team. That doesn’t mean you need to sign up for a coaching position or bring five-star culinary team snacks each week. The role that you play is deeper and more meaningful this thing. Your child will look to you for emotional support and your positive responses will build confidence when they feel unsure about how they’re doing.

Avoid having any expectations of what your child can accomplish on the field. Save constructive comments for the coaching staff. Stress the importance of them continuing to play the sport, even when things on the field don’t go their way. Never engage in sideline arguments with coaches or another parent. They’re always watching you, even when they’re in the game.

Your willingness to remain positive about your child’s capabilities will contribute to how long your child will stay on that team. Celebrate their accomplishments. Comfort them when the team losses. Talk to the coach to get tips on how to manage any issues that may arise with respect to your child’s anxiety. Your positive interactions about their sports activities and child development collaboratively build self-confidence, mental vitality, and tenacity toward setting goals later in life.

There are numerous benefits to child development through sports. Your goal as the parent is to find the sport that best fits your child. When you find that perfect fit, be their loudest cheerleader. Take pride in watching them participate in something they love. The benefits of child development through sports will stay with them long after the final game buzzer sounds.

Aprel Phelps Downey is a brand storyteller, author, and writer with a Bachelor of Science in marketing from the University of South Florida. She resides in Eastern Tennessee with her husband and daughter.