I have a 5 year old and a toddler at home, so, if you are a parent, you canwell imagine my plight! The cacophony in my house is hard to escape, despiteall efforts I often find myself trying to match the inexhaustible energy levelsthat these bonny young boys have. Not that they aren’t adorable and the bestthing that happened to me, but sometimes it may well be a case of too much of agood thing, especially if you are a stay at home parent. So in a quest toexhaust their endless reservoir of energy and find some peace of mind, Iconstantly struggling to engage them in some constructive activity or theother, whether it’s at home or outdoors. And what I have noticed is outdoorsports, has been the answer to my dilemma. It is not only fun for them, but isalso a breath of fresh of me.
As parents, let’s face it, there is no “slouch around” day – children haveto be active every day! The good news is that aside from giving tired parentssome much warranted relief, physical activity stimulates growth and leads toimproved physical and emotional health for a child. Today, research shows thatthe importance of physical activity in children is stronger than ever. Studiesindicate that that highly active children are less likely to suffer from highblood pressure, diabetes, and cancer of the colon, obesity, and coronary heartdisease later in life.
However sport, not just exercise, gives a child more than just physicalactivity; it contributes to a child’s development both psychologically andsocially. After all, as a child didn’t most of us spend our days playingcricket in the by lanes of our neighborhood or football at the local parks. Iremember most of my evenings were spent cycling to a friends’ house and playinglocal sports such as play pithoo/lagori or kho-kho, if not batting in theoutfield (of our building compound that is). Even vacations or picnics meant,packing in those badminton rackets for entertainment.
Conversely, the means for entertainment have changed over the years and inour screen dominated generation, parents actually have to look for ways toengage their children in physical activity, and I speak from personalexperience. A trip to the park is not enough; engaging the child in a sportingactivity can actually make sure that your child is not plagued with modern dayailments like obesity and juvenile diabetes.
Schools, of course, do their share in introducing children to varioussports, but it us parents who need to take the initiative and carry thisinterest back home, by enrolling our child in at least one sporting activity,that is age appropriate of course! Experts recommend at least 30 minutes ofsporting/physical activity for children a day and 60 minutes for teenagers.
That said, a sporting activity not only quenches the thirst for physicalactivity on a day-to-day basis, but if followed consistently, can also help youbring up a well-rounded individual with a solid value system and strongcharacter traits. Here are some of the benefits that I personally think sportscan bring to your child’s life and yours too:
1. Discipline – Introducing your child to different sports makes him/herrealize the value of a holistic lifestyle. Moreover, indulgence with sportswill open different avenues for healthy eating, exercise, ample rest and havingenough sleep. Martial Arts like Karate, Taekwondo, Judo and the likes are thebest available sports to keep your kids well disciplined. They also teachrestraint and self-control, which can go a long way as your child grows up.
2. Teamwork – Children who participate in sports can learn social skillssuch as taking turns and teamwork. They can also learn about responsibility toa team and how everyone needs to do their part for the team to be successful.Through sports, children learn how to take direction from a coach and adapt todifferent situations. Also, through sports, children have the opportunity tomake friends with other kids with similar interests.
3. Respect – This is an essential value that your child will learn throughthe world of sports. He/She will learn to respect his/her teammates, opponents,and his/her coach, despite disagreements and differences, as playing a sportdemands being together with your team, despite all differences, and followingyour guide/coach, even if one has a different take sometimes.
4 Sportsmanship – Sportsmanship will teach your child how to be strong andhumble in the face of both defeat and victory. It can be a great way to teachchildren that the going can get tough sometimes, but they need to emergestronger. Being a part of some sport, will also teach your child to learn fromhis/her mistakes and constantly persevere.
5 Preparation – To win in a game intensive training and careful planning isusually required and the same principle applies to real life as well. In orderto be almost perfect in executing every plan make, careful and thoroughpreparation is required.
6. Determination – Sports will indeed improve the perseverance of yourchild. In order to win, your child will learn to value hard work and patience whilepracticing crafts that will help him/her gain distinct edge in carving outsuccess.
7. Competitiveness – Today’s world is the world of competition. It isindispensable to create this spirit in a child in the beginning. Children learnto compete in a healthy manner when they find out how to shake hands with theopponents and show grace in the face of defeat. This helps them to learn thatthey must struggle in good spirit to achieve the aims of their life.
8. Constructive Use of Time – Instead of having your child spend time infront of the television or playing video games, indulging him/her in sport canbenefit him/her not only physically but also help him/her grow into a strongerperson mentally.
They don’t say “sporting spirit” for nothing! This spirit does signify thekind of values that a sportsperson is likely to have – that of discipline,dedication and determination among many other health benefits too. Now isn’tthat something that all parents try to inculcate in their children each dayanyway? So why wait, begin your child’s sporting journey today! And if you havealready, I would love suggestions on how I can expose my children to the worldof sports, and build strong individuals of tomorrow.