Do you remember the first sport you ever played, or do you actively encourage your kids to play any sport? Well, most parents believe putting their kids in sports will help them make friends, increase exercise, and promote a healthy lifestyle. But have you ever wondered about the effects of sports besides the well-known physical benefits? What roles do sports play in the social and psychological development of a child? Let’s figure out.
There’s no denying the fact that sports play an important role in our life. Besides the well-known fact that exercise is good for our bodies and minds, playing sports has all sorts of psychological benefits as well. Talking about the health benefits, sports help us get rid of bad cholesterol, strengthen our bones and muscles as well as decrease the risk of stroke, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Our brain also reacts positively when we play a sport by releasing natural hormones that can lead to feelings of euphoria, or, what’s often called, a runner’s high.
When we talk about the positive effects of sports on a child’s physical growth, it can be majorly stated as:
- Gross motor skills — Coordinating the arms, legs, and other large body parts
- Enhance fitness — Providing a structured setting to exercise
- Decrease obesity — Breaking the vicious cycle of unhealthy lifestyle
Contribution of Sports in Physical Growth of Children
In one study, 1245 individuals between the age of 16 to 20 were evenly distributed in three groups as per the time spent per week on sports: low (up to 3.5 hours per week), medium (up to 10.5 hours per week), and high (up to 17.5 hours per week). Those who played more than 14 hours of the sports weekly had the best chance of staying healthy. Playing sports also contributes to the growth and maintenance of a healthy musculoskeletal system. Additionally, it helps in maintaining desirable body composition by controlling weight and minimizing body fat. Children who actively participate in sports are also less likely to suffer from high blood pressure and type-2 diabetes later in life.
Building Necessary Social Skills
Let’s delve into how sports help children develop necessary social skills. Basically, it can be summarized as:
- Teaching life lessons
- Improving academics
- Promoting good character
- Setting goals
The NSHAW research focused on the development of social skills among athletic and non-athletic kids. It found that participation in sports resulted in boys performing better than their non-athletic counterparts by a ratio of 2:1. Similarly, a ratio of 3:1 was observed for the athletic female in comparison to non-athletic ones. Additionally, the probability of dropping out of school was also found to be comparatively lesser among the athletic kids. On the same note, the probability of finishing college was found to be comparatively higher. Actively participating in sports also leads to promoting good character and goal setting.
Psychological Effects of Sports
Talking about the psychological effects of sports among kids, it can be summarized into:
- Increase in happiness
- Increase in self-esteem
- Decrease in negative thoughts
- Less anxiety
According to another study, kids who engage in sports more than three times a week were found to have moderate to higher self-esteem in comparison to those who engage in sports two times in a week. This study directly correlating sports participation with self-esteem indicates that sports have a positive effect on the psychological development of a child in various ways. Additionally, it is being noted parents and coaches also need to incorporate the five C’s of positive youth development commonly known as:
- Competence — Ability to act effectively as per any given social situation and at work later in life
- Confidence — Showing self-esteem and trust in own ability to perform or face any task
- Connection — Ability to engage with society and make valuable friendship
- Character — Ability to build a value system and high morals
- Compassion — Ability to show empathy towards fellow human beings
Therefore, it is sufficient to claim that sports play a major role in the development of a child’s mind. If you have young children, it is recommended to encourage them to actively participate in sports. However, one has to keep in mind that it is subjective to every kid which sport they pick. If your kid is interested in basketball, get them enrolled in a nearby basketball club or build a backyard basketball court at your home. Similarly, if your kid shows interest in Ping-pong, football or any other sport, help them to reach out to respective clubs or required tools.