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Why sport for children

The obesity epidemic is rampant. More than half of the population is overweight, one person in three is considered obese and the situation is expected to worsen. The next generation of children is not expected to outlive their parents. It is time for change and that change must begin now.

Sport can have a healthy impact on the development of young children:

By giving them something to do and allowing them to belong to a group that shares the same goals and interests.

By encouraging cooperative play, teamwork and sportsmanship by focusing on the team as a whole, as opposed to the self-centred view that children often have.

Developing coordination by practicing gross and fine motor skills, strategic thinking when coordinating games, and math skills for calculating scores and statistics.

Develop self-esteem through practice, patience and perseverance in mastering a skill and achieving meaningful performance.

Develop discipline and leadership skills by setting goals and working hard to achieve them.

Help children develop communication skills that will enable them to get along with their peers, family members, teachers and coaches.

To instill a love of physical activity for life by correlating sport and activity with fun.
Results of the Active Kids initiative :

Physical activity is one of the most effective and inexpensive ways to improve health, reduce obesity rates and relieve stress and depression.

Make it a positive experience to retain your athlete:

Choose a sport or activity that the child will enjoy. Team sports may be suitable for extroverted and more aggressive personalities, while other children prefer individual effort and hard work to break a personal record. If it’s not fun, try something else.

Set realistic goals and a plan to achieve those goals.

Choose leagues, coaches and teams that match the results you want. For example: Non-competitive and recreational leagues will spend more time on skill development and fun, while roving and competitive teams tend to focus more on winning.

Separate the parents’ dreams and expectations from those of the child.
Choose the right sport or activity for your child.

There are many more options for children in sports today than ever before, making it easy to find a sport or activity that will appeal to almost everyone. The key is to find a sport or activity that your child will enjoy and be able to participate in successfully.

Here are some things to consider when looking for an activity for your child:

The child’s temperament – Children with lots of energy will probably do better in sports that include fast movements with lots of action. Think about field hockey, lacrosse and soccer. More quiet children may enjoy slower activity that involves strategy or greater attention to detail.

Think about baseball, wrestling, dancing and gymnastics. Introverted children may be more attracted to individualized sports where they compete with themselves for the best of themselves rather than against others. Think swimming, golf or martial arts. Non-competitive children may not want to participate in team sports at all, but enjoy a long bike ride on a family trail or a walk in the woods with the dog. Regardless of their personality, all children can be physically fit. As parents, it is our responsibility to work with our child to find a sport or activity that he or she will enjoy and be successful at.

Give them a chance to shine. With the right encouragement, a shy, quiet girl can light up Mia Hamm’s style on the soccer field. A push in the right direction can reveal a previously untapped competitive spirit. In other words: let them try it, they might like it.

Let them choose what they like – Physical activity should not be optional, but how they choose to be active should be left to their discretion. Giving children the choice of what they participate in will help them to become more involved in the pursuit of physical activity.

This can be a challenge for parents if they have participated in a particular sport and the child does not share their passion. A family of field hockey players may not know much about dance, but it is important to show your support, no matter what activity you choose.

Make sure they have fun – this will be the key to keeping them involved in any sport or activity. If workouts are a chore and the child complains or doesn’t want to go, it’s time to consider a change. Ask them why they aren’t having fun, which would make them more attractive, and adjust your behaviour accordingly.

Don’t be afraid to look back – Don’t exclude an activity because of a bad experience. A child who hated swimming lessons as a child may later appreciate the individual nature of competitive swimming. A change in environment, a different training strategy or having a friend on the team can make all the difference.

Prepare them for success – If a child has never done something before, they will be apprehensive and embarrassed to try something new.