Many of us have encountered athletic kids while we were growing up. These are the kids who were always ready to engage in physical activities and were involved in one or two (or more!) sports. If you're one of them growing up, your child is probably also like you – always active and enthusiastic to try any kind of sports. But even if you weren't, there’s no reason why you cannot help your child become one.
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The physical and health benefits of sports activities are unquestionable, but these are not the only perks. Encouraging your child to take up a sport or to engage in organized physical activities can put him ahead of his peers in more ways than one. Here are a few of the advantages:
1. He has a lower risk for obesity. The number of kids who are overweight or obese has increased over the years. Spending a lot of time doing physical activities can lessen the chance that your child will be overweight or will suffer from obesity. A study suggests that children who exercise are more likely to be as active as adults.
2. His motor skills will get better as he grows. And although good motor skills are often used by many parents to gauge whether their child is capable of doing a particular sport, kids who need help in this area should be given a chance to try it out, too! Use the sport or activity to help your child improve his motor skills.
3. He can relate well with others. Playing sports is an excellent way for your child to meet other kids and to improve his social skills, especially if he is engaged in a team sports like soccer or basketball. Even if your child chooses to engage in individual sports such as gymnastics or swimming, it will still be a great opportunity to meet other kids who are interested in the same sports as he is.
4. He knows how to accept defeat. Wins and losses are part of any sport and this is an excellent way to prepare your child for real life wins and losses. There will be loads of opportunities to learn how to accept defeat, and, just as important, the chance to learn how to win gracefully.
5. His leadership qualities will be nurtured. Your child does not have to be a leader of his sports team to develop his leadership qualities. He doesn’t even have to be in a team; he can be involved in individual sports and still develop his leadership qualities. Playing sports is a good opportunity for your child to learn how to overcome adversity, to persevere, to keep a positive attitude, and to be committed – all qualities of a good leader.
6. He can manage stress better. Exercise is a good stress reliever and mood improver for everyone. It increases the production of endorphins – chemicals that act as natural painkillers and can make one feel good. If your child is often tensed and anxious, exercise can help decrease these and improve his mood. If your child always has an abundance of energy, having a regular outlet for it will help him feel more relaxed and less hyperactive.
7. He has increased self-esteem and confidence. The best way for kids to develop their self-esteem and confidence is for them to feel good about themselves. Kids who are into sports constantly face physical challenges, and overcoming these make them feel good and accomplished. The knowledge that they can do things they set their mind to will do wonders for their self-esteem and confidence. The fellowship and camaraderie that comes from being in a team or belonging with a group of people will also make them feel good about themselves.
8. He has self-discipline and focus. Engaging in a sport requires focus and self-discipline. The routine of practices and drills will train your child and equip him to reach his goals. Many kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder have developed better focus and self-control when they took up a sport, particularly individual sports.
9. He knows the value of hard work. Having a sport will help your child learn to set goals and to work hard for them. Sports can be more effective because the result is immediate – a few more rounds at basketball practice can mean shooting more baskets at the next game, or a few more laps at swim practice can mean improving lap time by a second or two.
10. He is able to work in a team. If your child chooses to be involved in a team sport such as basketball or volleyball, he will learn how to work with a team. Learning how to work productively with other people is something that he can apply in other settings such as in school, in your family, and even in any career he will choose.
11. His academic performance may improve. Many studies have looked at the effects of physical activities on cognitive skills. The improved focus, attention, and concentration that are developed from engaging in sports all contribute a lot to helping your child perform better in school as well.