The Benefits of Team Sports
I always encourage parents to engage their children in competitive team sports. The positive outcomes for development as a result of playing a team sport are invaluable! Not only does playing team sports allow for the development of social skills and leadership skills, it also assists with the development of cognitive skills such as problem solving and processing speed. In addition, the mood of your child will improve due to the reduction of stress levels, on the provision that your child learns to be a good sport in competition.
It sounds straight forward, but being a good sport can be a hard concept for parents to explain to their children. As such, I’ve put together a few hints and tips to develop your child’s healthy relationship with competition. If you’re after something more detailed, you can also have a look at these suggestions from the Australian Institute of Sport.
Prepare Your Child
Prior to your child participating in any kind of competitive game, it’s important to explore the fact that they have a chance of both winning and losing. That’s just the way it is! Remind them to do their best and play to enjoy themselves. Let them know that the better their attitude about competitive sports the more others will enjoy playing with them.
Talk to your child about being competitive in a friendly way. Winning may well be a goal, but should not be seen as the single most important part of competitive sports. Discuss aspects such as: laughing, enjoyment, companionship, sharing, learning, helping, supporting, teaching, modelling, caring, practise, giving it a go, personal best and so on.
Winning is a nice thought, but it’s just not realistic 100% of the time and even if it were realistic, winning all the time is unhelpful for learning and development. We need to experience measured amounts of losing and mistake-making in order to develop into healthy, independent adults. It can be helpful because through experiencing losing, our children learn:
- None of us are good at all things and we are not expected to be good at all things.
- Sometimes we lose because, at that time, we were not as skilled as the person we were competing against. That’s okay. We can’t be 100% perfect, 100% of the time.
- Effort and commitment can never be taken away – help your child to feel proud of their hard work when training and developing their skills, rather than in the outcome of competition.
- How to be resilient – including how to regulate their emotions, bounce back, persist and strive.
- How good it feels to honestly win or succeed when it’s a challenge.
- How to support others when they have won and you have lost – a foundational component of humility.
Get in Touch
If you find that none of these strategies are helpful for your child or if you want some extra support for managing your child’s behaviours and social skills book an appointment with our Registered Child Psychologist Danielle Copplin today. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you would like more information about the benefits of team sports.
Messurier, M., and Nawana Parker, M. (2011). What’s the Buzz? A social skills enrichment programme for primary students. Routledge. NY: USA.