Sport – we know it’s good for us, and we know that children love being active, yet it’s not always understood why children partake in physical activity.
Official guidelines suggest that children and adolescents should be engaged in at least an hour of moderate or vigorous physical activity each day. This is for a number of reasons, including health and agility.
If you’re wondering why kids play sport, here’s ten significant reasons:
To have fun
As a parent, it can be easy to forget what it’s like being a child. In simple terms, their world centres around play. This is important for so many reasons, least of all because it’s how they learn to develop important life-long skills.
Having fun is what children love to do most. Therefore, sport is the perfect vehicle for this, allowing little ones to explore the world around them, and engage with other children. It can range from fun games like the egg and spoon race to more focused athlete training for kids. In order to create a thriving environment, having fun should be at the heart of sports activity.
Get some exercise
With the introduction of technology, such as computer games, laptops, iPads and huge TVs, we have somehow lost the art of outdoor pursuits along the way.
It’s important that children form good habits from a young age, and getting adequate exercise is central to this.
A recent report featured on BBC Sport suggests that one in three children do not get enough exercise. With growing levels of obesity, it’s ever-more important that we make time for youngsters to enjoy sport in all its forms.
To improve skills
Children are learning all the time, and sport is a great tool for developing key skills as well as training. For instance, football can be a wonderful sport for children helping little ones develop speed and stamina, as well as teamwork. It can also help with co-ordination and balance – all important parts of physical development.
While they may not know it, taking part in sport is a great way to socialise. For children that need to widen or grow their friendship groups, sport can help connect youngsters with other children of the same age. Popular team sports for children include; football, rugby, netball, hockey and basketball.
Children, like adults, benefit and develop most when they are being challenged. Sport for children is a great way to do this in a safe environment. It can form part of their daily sport activity too, from setting objectives to stretching their skills, to problem-solving skills that help build resilience.
Doing something they are good at
A child may have a preference to a certain sport, typically one they perform better at. Be it swimming, dancing or athletic performance training, whatever their passion lies, indulge it. Sport is a great activity for building social skills and confidence as well. If a child has a particular enjoyment for a sport, they are more likely to excel in it.
To play in a team
Whatever path a child takes in life, they will encounter working in a team at some point. Important lessons can be taught from a young age, through the medium of sport. That’s why it’s so beneficial for children to be encouraged to take part in team sports, to learn to respect themselves and others, and to understand the importance of winning and losing as part of a wider entity. These skills are transferable in many aspects of life, from the working world to personal relationships.
Children are highly competitive by nature and love to win. Sometimes this is motivation enough to take part in a sport, since the glory of coming first is all they may crave!
This of course is the perfect segway into teaching children that it’s not just about winning. Sport has the ability to teach children how to learn from failure and build resilience at the same time.
And as important as it is to teach children to win, it’s also equally important to teach them how to lose gracefully. Sport is the perfect teacher when it comes to growing curious minds.
A by-product of sport in children and adults alike, is the positive effect physical exercise has on wellbeing. Science has shown that physical activity releases endorphins in the brain, which in turn help improve sleep, reduce stress and can also act as a natural painkiller.
This can be an especially important outlet for children, who face more stress and pressure than any other generation before. With wellbeing and mental health high on the public agenda in recent years, it’s a great advantage to be able to teach children how to manage emotions in a constructive way. Sport has the ability to do just that, through an outlet that promotes wellbeing at its heart.
To be like their heroes
Superheroes, musicians and sports stars – what do they all have in common? Children look up to them of course.
While it’s less easy to emulate the triumphs of Spider-Man, for many kids, sporting heroes are the ultimate role models to look up to. In a recent survey, footballers Lionel Messi and David Beckham ranked in the top 10 of children’s heroes, beating other relatives, superheroes and stars for their affections.
So, there you have it, ten good reasons why children take part in sport and how it can help them as they grow into well-rounded individuals.
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