Child Sports

By Vanessa Rasmussen, © 2004, All rights reserved.

Sports provide a positive learning experience that will enhance your child's ability to develop self confidence, good sportsmanship and teamwork skills. Sports also teach the children to work hard and have a little fun at the same time. It has been estimated that 22 million children and youth, ages 6 to 18, are involved in organized sports outside of school. Research indicates that participation in sports can promote healthy development.

In sports, children are challenged both mentally and physically. Coaches teach the roles of the game, strategy to win, and how to work together. Your child will also build skills, endurance, and strength.

According to the American Sport Education Program (1994), sports participation:

  • Builds an appreciation of personal health and fitness;
  • Develops a positive self-image;
  • Teaches how to work as part of a team;
  • Develops social skills with other children and adults (such as taking turns and sharing playing time);
  • Teaches both how to manage success and disappointment; and,
  • Teaches how to respect others.

It is important to remember that the attitudes and behavior taught to children in sports carry over to adult life. Parents should take an active role in helping their child develop good sportsmanship. To help your child get the most out of sports, you need to be actively involved.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Provide moral support and constructive criticism
  • Try to be present for your child's matches or games and talk about it with your child later on
  • Don't expect miracles from the child
  • Educate yourself about the sport and encourage your child's involvement
  • Encourage the child to discuss with you his/her experiences with coaches and peer
  • Support your child during disappointments and when he/she loses a match or game
  • Teach sportsmanship to your child, how to play the sport for the sheer joy or spirit of it and not merely to win a game
  • Be a good and levelheaded spectator and teach the kids to do the same

Participation in youth sports provides numerous opportunities for healthy development physically, socially, and morally. The key to children gaining these benefits comes from coaches, parents, and others adults not only teaching children how to play the sports, but also supporting and demonstrating how to be a good sport. This can be done not only during the game, but also when playing softball in the backyard.

Copyright 2001, 2004. All rights reserved. Any reproduction of this article in whole or in part without written or verbal permission is strictly prohibited. For information about reprinting this article, contact the copyright owner: Vanessa Rasmussen, Ph.D, Starting a Day Care Center,