Why Sport is Critical to a Child’s Development

Growing up sport was what kept me on track in my life and development. Very early on I had a learning disability due to my hearing. This turned into delayed progression with reading and writing. Needless to say, I did not feel at all confident with academics well into high school. However, even though I was only average with schooling, I excelled at sports. I can only imagine what life would have been like if sports were not a part of my daily routine. Sport gave me the feeling of significance where academics never did.

In today’s post I am providing several reasons (reminders) on why ALL CHILDREN should take part in sport(s). It is my position that sport goes beyond achievement. Sport is an art form that all can partake in and grow from. Wins and losses are not what it is about. Sport develops the body, sharpens the mind, and enriches the soul.

What sport teaches:

  • Life lessons– Simple lessons show up everyday while competing. Things like “Even on your best day you still may not win” or “You may be the best player on the field but if you don’t play as a team you won’t win”.
  • Values and Respect– Children will learn about sportsmanship and what it means to be a humble winner or gracious loser. They will also learn the boundaries or their own bodies and how to manage them.
  • Emotional Regulation– This is a critical skill to develop in a world that often values achievement over community. Sport brings the child into contact with highly emotional situations that they learn to control and navigate. This serves them well later in life.
  • How to learn from failure– Failure is one of the best teachers out there. Children who learn to handle failure, self reflect, and try again another day build resiliency. Children who are resilient are happier and well adjusted later in life.
  • Problem solving skills– Sport teaches children how to assess a situation, scheme up a game plan, and then try to execute what they thought up. Chess is a wonderful game that promotes this. All sport requires this on some level.

As children participate in sports there is a whole host of things that increases (or get a boost) within the child. Over time stamina, strength, and cardiovascular fitness rises in the child. Downstream this improves the child’s sleep quality and immune system.

Let us not forget about increased development in communication skills. Team sports especially push children to communicate better for the success of the team. It has been my experience that the best team (most fun and enriching) is the team that has the best communication. Children develop a sense of belonging and what it means to be part of something bigger than themselves.

There is also a bunch of things that sport reduces over time for children as well. Sport gives the child an outlet outside of home and school life. As such, sport allows the child to blow off mental tension which marks a decrease in stress, anxiety, and depression. Physically, for sports that require this type of effort, there is a reduction in childhood obesity.

Going back to my own childhood story, I don’t think I would have made it through schooling if physical education and recess was ever taken away. As I started to take part in sports offered through school my grades improved dramatically. No joke….baseball and soccer was the main driver on why I got into college.

All life is a balance. Let’s help cultivate an environment where that balance is honored for the child. Sports provides this balance by offsetting the demands of schooling and everyday life.

Be well

-MJ

Photo by Jeffery F Lin via Unsplash

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