Starting from the base that the sport is good for the health then a crossroads of roads opens up that it is not easy to decide where to go.This is the dilemma parents often face when choosing sports for their children, especially in a time when more and more children prefer sedentary activities with electronic devices and it is necessary to motivate them to exercise.
BBC Mondo offers five variables that can help parents to choose.
1. – Age
Different ages means that children have different abilities to understand the rules and absorb information, different motor development and different levels of concentration.
According to Dr. Rafael Gutiérrez, specialist in Sports Medicine at the MEDS Clinic in Chile, “there are many sports programs for preschool-age children, but it is not really until they are 8 or 10 years old that they have physical capacity, they can maintain care for long periods and possess the ability to understand the rules necessary to play a sport in an organized manner. “
“A minor goes to practice a sport mainly for recreational purposes, to occupy a part of their leisure time with a recreational activity that amuses them,” said Dr. Gutiérrez.Dr. Marianne Engle of the New York Children’s Studies Center also stresses that children under the age of six should be exposed to simple sports and a variety in which they can clearly express their abilities. Buy Baby Activity Equipment
The menu of options is very wide, but the little ones are those that usually show some kind of inclination, be it for the example of the family (the sport practiced by the father, mother, brother or other relative) or by the influence of some friend.
That’s why you should pay special attention during the moments when you play freely.
At that time the children carry out activities that could determine their future growth in a sport such as jumping, running, catching and throwing balls, swimming, dancing, climbing and they do it alone or with friends.
2. – Individual or collective
The variety of personalities from an early age generates a process of natural selection. There are children who feel calm, others who are in constant movement, there are those who avoid physical contact and those who tend to use their feet before their hands.For Dr. Fernando González, an orthopedic surgeon and doctorate in sports medicine, it is also important to understand the physical and psychological development of the child, if they have any degree of disability, sex and personal interests to define the style of the sport and the role that the minor will play within it.
Although sports can be classified into several subgroups by elements that relate them, there are two main categories in which they can be grouped: individual and collective.
“Group sports stimulate teamwork, solidarity, camaraderie, collective support,” said Dr. González, who worked with the Universidad Católica professional soccer club and the Chilean rugby team.
“Individual sports highlight personal effort, sacrifice and a higher rate of consistency,” he said.The first list includes popular sports like soccer, baseball, basketball, rugby, hockey, or volleyball. In the second gymnastics, tennis, swimming, fencing, golf, skiing or horse riding.There are others that could enter both categories such as cycling, sailing or dancing, which in its competitive version can be considered a sport.
3. – What are you looking for?
Many children dream of being professionals one day, but that desire appears once minors know the sport and become fans of it.But before forging a sports career, what prevails at the beginning is the fun and the series of benefits that are achieved with the sport through a “multitude of factors”, as Dr. Gutiérrez commented.
Winning can be important in building self-esteem, but the benefits of sports go far beyond a trophy.
“There are those directly related to improving health: cardiorespiratory endurance, flexibility, strength and muscular endurance and coordination,” he explained. “But it can also contribute to increasing self-esteem and developing abstract thinking through notions like speed, distance, depth, strength, driving force, and fair play.”
Dr. González added that “with sport children learn to work as a team, to support a partner and to help each other, especially those who are in a team.””They learn orders and recognize an authority outside the parents, they generate friendships that are usually strong and lasting,” he added.That is why it is important to know what the objective is when choosing a sport, with which in many cases there will be a lifelong relationship, whether professional or as an amateur.
4. – No pressure
Forcing a child to play a sport can have a counterproductive effect of rejection, so it is preferable to use the stimulus as the main tool for the necessary physical activity.”Pressuring a child to practice a sport would be a failure in the medium or long term, which could have unexpected consequences,” warned Dr. Gutiérrez.
“You have to educate him in an active lifestyle. The physical and social environment where he lives, personal characteristics and family influence are elements that will determine that a child does more or less sports,” he reiterated.
5. – Alternatives
Organized sports are usually the solution of most parents to encourage their children to physical activity, which is considered necessary for the healthy development of the organism.
But these sports usually have a competitive background that could also have a negative effect on the child, both physically and with serious psychological injuries (fear of failure, lack of self-esteem, group rejection).
Sports with a competitive background can have a negative effect, so for many children it is preferable to encourage more recreational and playful physical activity.”I think that the most important thing for them to do is to do some type of physical activity,” said Dr. González, who recommended that it be done “for at least 1 hour a day and every day of the week.”Both Dr. González and Dr. Gutiérrez listed a series of daily activities that “can favor the training and physical preparation of the little ones.”