Sports in a child’s life offers multiple benefits, not only at the level of harmonious physical development, but also at the level of socialization and long-term health. It has been usefully believed even since antiquity that physical health leads to a healthy mind, body and spirit.
The ancient Greeks spent half of their education exercising. In the 1800s, one third of the time spent in school was dedicated to physical exercise. Until recently, the unwritten rule of children was clear: they came from school or kindergarten, they changed into “outside” clothes, and went out to play until the sun set. But today, when there are dozens of TV channels, hundreds of DVDs with movies and thousands of computer games, it is very difficult to tempt children with a “trivial” walk in the park. So, what can parents do?
How to motivate your child to do sports
First of all, it is imperative to limit the time the child spends in front of the TV or playing computer games and replace some of these sedentary activities with exercise. Children need at least 30 to 60 minutes of daily exercise. Secondly, encourage your child to participate in physical activities after school and at the weekend. Consider also less conventional exercises, as children need variety in their lives. Combat sports, jumping exercises, agility training, BOSU ball training, and body weight exercises are just a few examples.
Organized sports can help children grow not only physically but also spiritually. Whether it is football or roller skating, swimming or walking, movement gives children the chance to grow harmoniously. Teamed or organized, sports helps children become more sociable, they find it easier to work with others and understand what fair play means. In addition to its social benefits, sports also provides a great method for kids to have fun.
A constant physical activity (2-3 times a week), starting at the age of 3 or 4, has a very important preventive role. It strengthens immunity, prevents illness and obesity, it helps correct muscle development, it strengthens the bone system, it helps correct posture, and last but not least, it balances the child’s endocrine system. Besides these effects on the body, it plays an equally important role in healthy mental development. Sports practiced from a young age helps develop creativity, improves child’s coordination and relationship with other children and adults. Children who practice sports constantly are more sociable, communicative and disciplined.
Nowadays, many parents are thinking of enrolling their children at a sports club right from a very young age. Before making this decision, think about whether the little one is physically and emotionally prepared for this step. Early enrollment in a sport can create frustrations that will later turn into apathy towards movement and alienate the child from organized sports.
Although there is a range of sports suitable for preschoolers (such as swimming, sports dance), children only develop at the age of 6-7 years the physical and mental abilities necessary to listen to the instructions of a coach and understand the rules of a sport. Enrollment at a club where the child can practice a sport will be done simultaneously with the beginning of kindergarten, or shortly after, when the child begins to learn the first social rules. Preschoolers can be taken to swimming, gymnastics, athletics, dances and martial arts. School children may choose martial arts, skating, table tennis, tennis, handball, football, etc.
Some parents fear that certain sports can affect the growth and development of children, but pediatricians assure them that no sport practiced properly and started at a recommended age affects the growth and development of a child.
Doctors remind parents that sport is a special form of education more of the spirit than of the body. Sport gives children more confidence, more organizational capacity. The earlier a child starts practicing a sport, the higher the chances to define his personality. In order to convince children to do sports, it is important the parents’ example and to find a pleasant environment for the children to practice it.
They also advise parents to keep in mind the child’s personality and see if they prefer a team sport or an individual one. It is important that parents do not force children to do a certain sport. The child’s opinion should not be neglected. Sometimes, a 4 year old can have clear preferences and parents have to take account of them even if his options are not what they dreamt for him. It is also possible that after a while the little one finds that he really does not like what he has chosen and his parents should not blame him for that. Parents should be understanding, because, until you actually experience something, you do not know if you like it or if you can handle it.
In conclusion, sport offers both physical and social benefits to children’s lives. Besides harmonious development, it offers them the chance to reach their maximum growth potential and learn new abilities and passions they will use throughout their lives.
What sport did you think about enrolling your child and at what age?
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