By Jason Parson
Whether it is basketball, football, soccer, swimming or track and field, youth sports is an exciting way to help children learn and grow. Children develop physical skills, get exercise, make friends, have fun, learn to play as a member of a team, learn to play fair, and improve self-esteem. To help a child get the most out of sports, the parents should to be actively involved.
Besides the amazing physical benefits of your child participating in a sports program, there are so many opportunities to teach life lessons, including:
- Providing emotional support and feedback
- Attending some games and talking about them afterward
- Helping to create realistic expectations for your child
- Learning the sport and supporting your child’s involvement
- Talking to your child about their experiences with the coach and other team members
- Helping your child handle disappointments and losing
- Modeling respectful spectator behavior
Although involvement takes time and may create challenges for work and family schedules, it allows you to develop a deeper relationship with your child and helps them to better understand social interactions. Your child’s behavior and attitude reflects a combination of the coaching and your discussions about good sportsmanship and fair play.
It is also important to talk about what your child observes in sports events. When bad sportsmanship occurs, discuss other ways the situation could be handled. While you might acknowledge that in the heat of competition it may be difficult to maintain control and respect for others, it is important to stress that disrespectful behavior is not acceptable. Remember, success is not the same thing as winning and failure is not the same thing as losing.
As with most aspects of parenting, being actively involved and talking with your children about their life is very important. Being proud of accomplishments, sharing in wins and defeats, and talking to them about what has happened helps them develop skills and capacities for success in life. The lessons learned during children’s sports will shape values and behaviors for adult life.
Jason Parsons is Club Manager for 24 Hour Fitness — Silverado Sport at 9875 South Maryland Parkway in Las Vegas. He can be reached at (702) 361-8199.