Why Is Playing Sports So Important during Childhood?
Playing sports provides children with multiple benefits that are key for their development. There are many reasons why this is true, ranging from physical health to emotional fulfilment.
Playing sports during childhood is an essential part of a child’s overall education, as physical and psychological development go hand in hand. That’s why sports contribute to children’s healthy growth.
Sports provide children with much more than entertainment. Doctors and psychologists affirm that children develop better quality of life if they participate in sports.
The impact of playing sports during childhood lasts a lifetime. Children that acquire the habit of practicing sports early on will surely keep it up when they’re older.
Playing sports can protect them from many health-related risk factors caused by sedentary lifestyles. It can also prevent diseases such as obesity and heart conditions.
UNESCO and sports during childhood
UNESCO suggests that governments and other organizations should promote actions that favor sports for children.
“Children that acquire the habit of practicing sports early will surely keep it when they grow up”
Benefits of playing sports during childhood
- It promotes physical health and the prevention of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and obesity.
- It stimulates the development of muscles and bones.
- The creation of bonds with others is another benefit of playing sports. Sports teach them to adapt to the social rules of the world outside of the home.
- It stimulates the development of social skills. The child will learn how to accept other children without social, cultural or economic discrimination. It also teaches them the importance of teamwork in achieving results.
- It helps children overcome personality issues such as shyness.
- Sports help strengthen their self-esteem. Children learn the value they have and realize their participation is important to the team.
- Sports also keep children away from sedentary lifestyles. It’s also a good way to counteract the attraction they have towards technology, video games, mobile phones and computers.
- It’s a good way to promote the inclusion of children with different abilities.
- Sports contribute to the prevention of common addictions during adolescence such as drug addiction, alcoholism and smoking. In addition, it prevents children from committing crimes of this sort in the future.
- It helps stimulate creativity and problem solving.
- Sports teach children to take on responsibilities and the importance of following through.
Sports according to a child’s age
As children grow, their body and mind begin to experience different needs. This is an aspect that we must take into account when deciding which sports to choose.
The child’s opinion is very important. The family can make a list of options which suit their economic possibilities, time and organization.
When the list is done, the child should be in charge of choosing the sport that excites them the most.
- 3–5 years. During these years the sport they choose has to have a lot of activity. Children can learn many lessons through games. That’s why the activity they choose should incorporate recreational components. Stories, scenes or special outfits can help stimulate the child’s imagination.
This is an appropriate stage for them to develop coordination and balance through sports. Three or four hours a week of physical activity is recommended.
- 6–10 years. During this stage the child should be allowed to try several sports in order for them to decide which one they like the most. Judo, karate, cycling, rhythmic gymnastics, tennis, soccer, basketball and volleyball are all good options.
When playing sports during childhood it’s important to eliminate competition. It’s true there must be a winner, but children should be able to value their sports simply as recreational activity.
- Puberty and adolescence. This is a period when they’ll undergo radical changes physically, psychologically and emotionally.
Sports will allow them to experience the optimal development of their personality. It will also strengthen their self-esteem and help them find out about their body during this great stage of transformation.
If they’ve already been playing sports since childhood, in adolescence they’ll be able to choose which one they’d like to dedicate more time to.
“When playing sports during childhood, it is important to eliminate competition”
Safety when playing sports during childhood
It’s important to provide the maximum safety conditions when a child is practicing sports. Safety refers both to physical safety and the people who are in charge of the activity.
Knowing the basic concepts about the sports, the physical conditions and the child’s exposure to risk factors will prevent them from getting hurt.