We know that sports and play kids are getting is good for their health. Or at least provides them with an attitude and exercises that are fun and have the oppertunity to involve them in a more active lifestyle. But that’s not the only motivation for encouraging children to participate in (organized) sports and play.
Sports teaches our children lots of things. When you practice sports as a kid you learn how to win and how to lose. You learn what it’s like to put in lots of work and have things not turn out terrifically. And you learn what it feels like to put in a lot of work – and then win or experience flow. I think you can’t teach those lessons. You have to experience them.
There is a growing awareness that sports and play isn’t just an important physical and social activity, it also builds skills that can make a difference later in life. More parents think that the way you participate in sports and play – the leadership and fellowship – is actually preparing their kids not only for the next game but for much broader roles in life. Also the aspects of solving problems in a creative way are gaining appreciation.
I remember my first competition. Nerves and butterflies in my stomach. Excited and a bit scared at the same time. Excited because of nerves and also of wanting to win, wanting to play, wanting to show my skills. Scared out of uncertainty and lack of self-esteem. It may be uncomfortable at the time, but that is great to have in a situation where the stakes are really low – where, if you fail you’re still going to get pizza and ice cream, and your parents are still going to tell you they love you. At the end I got compliments, build my self-esteem and learn to appriciate play as an important part to feel good and balanced in life. It developed over the years to free outdoor sports where I can play around, feel fit and battle with nature, myself and sometimes others. But back to the topic.
If kids can learn to fight their fear and work through it, that steadiness comes in handy later in life – when the stakes are much higher. Sports is teaching children about discipline, dedication and how to get along with others – all skills to help in the future. A lot of parents also stresses the value of learning to be part of a team. Results of research shows that sports and play develops life skills like discipline, commitment, pro-activity in seeking solutions and physical confidence. Sports and play has the unique ability to develop this naturally. That is why encouraging play and sports is important to do, and it’s also good to play more as an adult. So, do you play enough? I don’t mean exercise, play!