The Hidden Benefits of Sports for Kids and Parents
January 18, 2017
You already know that playing sports is a fun way to stay healthy, since regular physical activity significantly decreases your risk of developing diseases. But in addition to the physical benefits, studies show that playing sports can enhance social skills and mental well-being in children and adults alike. Here are just a few ways sports can make a positive socio-emotional impact on every member of your family.
- Behavior Modeling. Playing sports with children gives parents a chance to act as a role model for their kids. It's a great opportunity to model fairness and kindness, while showing children and teens your authoritative, approachable and fun sides by setting rules, giving tips and rewards.
- New Community. A study in the Journal of Park and Recreation Administration found that parents with children involved in sports develop a sense of community with other parents of participating kids. Gaining a sense of belonging and acceptance can increase self-confidence and boost feelings of empowerment.
- Support. The same study also shows that parent involvement can form positive as well as negative outcomes in child sport participation. Coaching from the sidelines and contributing to background anger can cause a child to drop out of a sport. However, being encouraging and emotionally supportive will help youth to enjoy the sport even more.
- Social Skills. When youth participate in sports, they have a unique opportunity to develop social skills. They learn about teamwork, leadership and creating friendships, which teaches values like empathy and compassion. When working in groups, children can learn to solve interpersonal problems and maintain cooperative relationships.
- Managing Emotions. Research shows that sports also help children learn to manage emotions. Young athletes have shown that sports can help them establish and expand an identity within themselves by trying different activities and discovering their strengths and weaknesses, which leads to higher self-esteem.
- Increased Intelligence. The intelligence and academic performance of youth can be improved by sports. Involvement in physical activity has been proven to increase cognitive function and lead to better working memory and attention. Plus, kids who play sports score higher on tests and have lower school drop-out rates.
To see all the sports programs the YMCA of Metro Chicago has to offer (for kids AND parents), click here.