Parents often ask, "Is my child ready for sports?"Few ask themselves a similar question, "Am I ready for my child's sport participation?"Or related questions such as
·Will I be able to let my child develop at his or her own pace or will I push my child to satisfy my own expectations?
·Will I be able to control my emotions and behaviors when observing or practicing with my child?
·Will I place greater value on my child's sport performances than on his or her enjoyment of the game or activity?
These are important questions, the answers to which will help to determine ifyouare ready for your child's participation in sport, and, more importantly, if your child will enjoy and benefit from sport participation.
One of the most common mistakes that parents make when enrolling young children in a sport program is to assume that youngsters want to become proficient in the sport.It is an extremely rare child that has this ambition before the age of 10.Most children want to join a sport team just to have fun, to be with existing friends or to make new ones, or to try something new and challenging.Unfortunately, some programs have taken most of the play out of the playing of sport games.They have turned what should be a joyful activity into a serious one where just about everything possible has been done to imitate the adult, professional model of sport.There are drafts, rigid league schedules, championship tournaments, all-star games, first place trophies, and coaches who either believe in this nonsense or who quietly tolerate it.Many parents who sense that something is wrong often remain silent as well because they see so many others around them who have been caught up by this approach.With no known options around, even the outraged parents sometimes leave their children in these programs, hoping that their children will make new friends, learn how to follow rules and obtain some beneficial exercise.
One of the tragedies of this scenario is that children drop out of these programs before the teen years, just at the time that team sports have the greatest potential to benefit young people - physically, emotionally, socially, cognitively, and some would add, spiritually.This is a time when peer group affiliation becomes so important to young people.The camaraderie offered through a sport team with the guidance of a coach that puts the welfare of every player above his or a parent's need to win provides an excellent "social immunization" against other, potentially harmful, peer group influences or social isolation altogether.
What needs to be done is to put the play back into the playing of sport games.We need to dramatically modify the games for young children, not modify them just enough that the children who have developed earlier than the others can cope with.This approach benefits only the athletically gifted and leaves the other children wondering why mom and dad put them there.
Children need to start out in small groups, on small fields, with simple games and without all of the potentially harmful trappings of the professional game.Competitive, league-structured programs make sense only after children have developed the fundamental movement patterns and object control skills associated with a given sport - and, more importantly, have developed the emotional maturity to deal with winning and losing.
Developmentally appropriate sport programs can provide young children with many wonderful developmental experiences, in all of the developmental domains.It's your job as a caring parent to ferret these out for your child.
And, when the game is over, ask them, "Did you have fun?” not, "Did you win the game?"
Sport4All...Starting Kids Out Right! Tel: 301-325-9166