As parents and citizens in the Overland Park and Kansas City area, we’re aware of some of the reasons why we should encourage our kids to do youth sports. Like teaching them the value of teamwork and keeping them healthy and out of trouble. But there are actually a lot of other benefits many of us don’t know about, including psychological ones. Here are 6 benefits of youth sports we can all feel good about.
Believe it or not, local sports help kids develop an appreciation and awareness of their community. When you think about it, this is often the first time kids interact with adults and kids outside their church, school or neighborhood. It’s a situation where people from their community come together to coach, compete against or support their team. And it helps our youth feel like they’re part of something bigger.
Positive Body Image
Thanks to social media, movies and television, it’s too easy for young people to develop an unhealthy self-image when they don’t measure up to a supposedly perfect ideal. Team sports changes that perception, because kids aren’t evaluating their body solely on what they look like, but what their body can do. In sports, looks mean nothing, performance means everything – positive reinforcement that it’s okay to be exactly who they are.
While parents are often tempted to overprotect, sports toughen kids up. They learn that they can’t always be the hero, that everybody makes mistakes and that their team doesn’t always win, no matter how well they played. But they also learn that hard work pays off in the long run. In a blog for Psychology Today, Marika Lindholm Ph.D., says that “it’s good for your kids to learn how to both win and lose.”
Even though team sports often seem to fly in the face of schoolwork, what it teaches actually helps them become better students. According to University of Missouri healthcare, “sports required memorization, repetition and learning – skillsets that are directly relevant to class work.” They also force kids to manage time, focusing more and procrastinating less on homework.
Let’s face it, growing up is stressful. There are simply too many things beyond a kid’s control. Sports offer a way to deal with it in a positive way. According to University of Missouri healthcare, “Exercising is a natural way to loosen up and let go of stress. You can also make new friends who can be there for you as a support system. When you feel under pressure or stressed, call up a teammate, head to the gym to talk and play it out.”
So, parents, the next time you’re questioning the time and money commitment that comes with team sports, think about all the amazing benefits your kids are getting, too.