Craig Hunter, Deputy Principal, Rehoboth Christian College, shares on kids and sports on The Morning Show.
It’s so easy to get obsessed with the winning and losing aspect of sports. But as parents we should really be focusing on the benefits sports has for mental, emotional, physical and spiritual growth.
My boy has done gymnastics every week for over 10 years. Now 10 years ago he was a little kid, struggling at school. But the discipline, being mentored and being focused has had such an impact on his school life and even his spiritual life!
He is very good, he won’t make Olympics – but that’s ok. What he is learning is even more important about life, discipline, goals, being coached – even his Maths improved! I believe every child should play some kind of sport.
What are the emotional and physical benefits of our kids playing sport?
My youngest has been playing soccer for a few years. I remember at his first game I joked with Ethan and told him if he scored a goal, I’d give him $20. (I knew the chances were pretty small.) Then Ethan scored penalty goal!
What are some benefits?
*Learn to be part of a team not just individual
*Learn how to lose – Trust me, I’m a Freo Dockers supporter! Week after week I don’t give up on my team.
*Resilience – not giving up. Getting up again, even when the ref makes a bad call or another player annoys you.
*Listen and follow coaches instructions – This is a key life principle.
*Be challenged physically and mentally – This ones for the parents too, sometimes I don’t want to go and watch.
*Be part of a community and club – An opportunity to make lifelong friends and memories.
*Deal with difficult people and don’t like – they might be on same team as you!
What if my child doesn’t like it or want to play?
Your child doesn’t have to be in some social or community league to soak up all these benefits. If they aren’t interested in joining a club – just do it for fun! Everything so competitive and about winning all the time. You can have some light hearted sporty fun amongst your family. Even if you just kick a footy and throw a frisbee around. You could ride a bike together or find something they enjoy even if you as parent don’t!
One of the tough decisions to make as a parent is how much to push them. They’re playing soccer twice a week, they’re hating it, you’re paying for it so when do you pull the plug?
It’s hard because you want them to learn commitment, teamwork, losing, winning and using gifts. They need fitness and encouragement that comes through sport. So encourage them to keep going as much as you can until they’re about 13 or 14. That’s when they really start to make these decisions for themselves, as long as they’re getting some kind of exercise.