How to Make Sure Your Child Benefits from Sports Activities

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Are all types of physical activity emotionally stimulating and satisfying for children? Research has conducted and concludes that there are several benefits from participating in sports and other forms of physical activities.

Richard Bailey, Ph.D., stated in his research that the benefits are not limited to only the physical health of the children. Physical activities improve their social behaviour and attitude, while increasing their self-esteem and academic performance. He also concluded that this positive influence comes not only from the activity itself, but also from the interaction with peers, coaches, and parents.

When parents enroll their children in a sport or other physical activity, they have certain goals in mind. Children, however, have no goals in mind because they just want to have fun! The expectations parents could be to improve general health, correct behavioural problems, manage excessive energy, or to improve the child's self-esteem. After driving to an endless number of practices and spending money on fees and equipment, parents definitely can tell if an activity benefits their children or not.  

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Are there any ways to predict if there will be a positive outcome?

Nobody can accurately predict the resulting benefits of a child's participation, but there are a few ways to increase the probability of favoured results:

1. Ask your children what they want:  Many children are vocal about what they want, but if they have not already told you, ask! Do not make your child follow your dream or achieve your goal. You end up with disappointed parents and damaged children. Nothing good comes from that.

2. Evaluate your child's strength: This is very important. We all have different talents and are at different levels for certain abilities. If your child has some serious dance moves (or not), consider dance lessons! It will allow them to meet and have fun with other children that love to dance as well. But if your child cannot sit still, maybe piano lessons not for them.

3. Evaluate your child's progress: Check weekly, biweekly, or monthly—whatever works for you and your child to see if any benefits are surfacing. If after a month or two no benefits show, it may be time to consider another activity. positive changes within your child should show more or less right away. These include being more open and talkative, happier, and being less whiny. However, do talk with your child before making any drastic changes.

4. Before pulling the kid out of the activity, ask yourself if there is anything that can be done to improve the situation. Sometimes just changing the timing (if possible) of the class can do wonders. Perhaps your child was too tired after school for soccer. If you switch to Saturdays, your little "Ronaldo" may have more energy to  kick and run after the ball for two hours straight.

5. Before you actually pull your child from the activity, you should consider why? Are you doing it because your kid doesn't like it, r because you don't like it? Nothing makes your kid happier than spending every weekend at swimming lessons, but you think it is not as beneficial as karate classes. At least your child will be able to stand up for their self! You can't really swim away from bullies at school, but we just said—nothing makes him happier! Remember the emotional benefits of physical activity we talked about at the beginning? This is it. It is achieved because they like to swim, with the health benefits of water exercise.  

Next time try to watch your child or children during their lesson or classes. Their facial expression and attitude will say it all! According to Statistics Canada, the vast majority of 5- to 11-year-olds did not meet the physical activity guidelines. Only 39% achieved at least 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily. In 12- to 17-year-olds, only 18% achieved at least 30 minutes.

Let’s change those numbers by supporting and encouraging children to participate in any kind of physical exercise, as long as they enjoy it!  Even if you have a slightly different opinion about your child’s choice. The emotional benefit should be just as important as the physical benefits.