We all know how vital it is to be active and keep ourselves healthy through physical exercise, and one of the best ways to do this is through sports. Exercising, especially when we’re young, has many health benefits, such as strengthening our bones, clearing out bad cholesterol from our arteries, and reducing the risk of serious illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or stroke. When we workout, our brains also release a number of chemicals, including endorphins. With consistent physical activity, these increased endorphins can sharpen our focus, improve our mood as well as our memory.
Sure, encouraging sports can nurture your kid’s physical and mental health, but did you know that it can also help in teaching them a number of key life lessons? Studies have shown that there are several interesting benefits that go beyond the physical and mental advantages of exercise alone. Here are the most significant psychological benefits and life lessons that sports can teach your children both in the short and long term.
You guessed it! The communal responsibility of being on a team with one united goal can make kids understand what it means to work together. Whether they are a leader of a contributor, playing sports helps them to understand why teamwork is important. Being part of a team also allows kids to both receive and give praise to others for their hard work, which can teach them about the importance of celebrating small wins in life. Regularly playing sports also encourages kids to learn about the all-important virtues of trust and depending on others.
As the last point outlined, sport is a past-time that is fundamentally centered around teamwork, inclusivity, and diversity. Sport isn’t just about entertainment, it’s about connecting with others. Sport can help kids to communicate with and respect others from an array of different cultural or socio-economic backgrounds, as well as different communication patterns.
Sports requires focus, memorization, repetition, and learning – skills sets that are directly related to schoolwork, such as math. So it comes as no surprise that in some areas of sport, kids can pick up on important basic math skills, such as through keeping score or observing different geometric shapes on the sporting fields. For older children, they may enjoy comparing performance graphs, or even learning about the value of various players by following their favourite team’s market transfers.
Decision-making is a fundamental element within any sport – it can be the difference between winning or losing a game. The fast-paced nature of sport means that children can learn to adapt, analyse and make decisions quickly while knowing which the best outcome is to achieve. It can help kids take action and responsibility, and learn from their mistakes. With this comes improved problem-solving skills and the belief that they can lead their lives with strong decision-making, whatever that circumstance may be.
Asking for Help and Giving it Back
Sports teaches kids that there’s no shame in asking for help. Receiving feedback from others, in any situation, is a powerful way to improve and to understand where you have gone wrong. Likewise, sport encourages children to act as a mentor to help others to understand the “practice makes perfect” principle, and to learn what they are great at. It can also teach children about the importance of listening to feedback, and not being disheartened when the advice is not what they wanted to hear.
Not every child will enjoy sport. Maybe it’s too competitive, or not competitive enough. Your child may be autistic and overwhelmed by the thought of sport, or it could be the case that they are shy and prefer being more creative than active. Sometimes, however, it can just take time for a child to find a sport that plays to their strengths and individual needs. When they find it, it’ll be a strong avenue in their lives that teaches them how to manage their time, set goals, and above all, dedicate their time to regular healthy habits and commitments.
A universally acknowledged trait that can be developed from playing sports as a child is leadership. This is because sport introduces kids to soft skills such as listening to others, as well as negotiating and reasoning when things go wrong in the game. As your child grows older, they will begin to grasp the idea that leadership is a transferable skill that can be used in many areas of life, whether that be in a future job, in family life, or simply in organising the likes of a group trip!
Learning a new skill is always a work in progress. Depending on their athletic ability, your child may not immediately take to a new sport. Regardless, taking part can teach your child tenacity while trying out often challenging new things. It’ll help them to realise that they must be patient in life if they want to see and produce worthwhile results.
Encouraging kids to work at their sporting skills reinforces a growth mindset and can foster a big confidence boost. This mindset can be useful in all walks of life and helps children to carry a positive outlook on any challenges that they may face, such as at school or in their future workplace.
One of the most transformative, long-term benefits of playing sports is introducing your child to the idea of failure, and why it’s OK. Sport teaches children about how to overcome adversity and to never give up.The experience of coming to terms with defeat can also greatly help to build the resilience and self-awareness that is necessary to manage academic, social, and physical hurdles. Even if your child’s sport team isn’t winning all the time, or at all for that matter, they can greatly benefit from both the highs and lows of their sporting experiences. With sport, your child can understand that it’s only natural to make mistakes, and can begin to think of them as learning curves.
This is a contributed post and therefore may not represent the views and opinions of this blog or its author.