By Deborah Williams
Encouraging your child to participate in physical activities has many benefits, including better health, improved self-concept, more efficient brain functioning, etc. It’s seems like a win-win, but a recent study suggests that parents need to limit their enthusiasm in this area. According to The United Press International website article “Overzealous Parents Can Ruin Kids’ Sports,” University of Alabama researcher, Sandra Sims, a child’s early interest—sometimes as early as age three–in a sport can wane by middle school.
Sims points out that children who participate in sports have two needs that must be met: to have fun and to feel worthy. She gives the following guidelines:
- AGE SIX OR YOUNGER – Young children should have unstructured play.
- AGE SIX TO 14 – Children complete a season in a sport, evaluate it, consider other options, and switch if desired.
- AGE 15 – Children can commit or specialize in a favorite sport at this time.
A final reminder: A child’s participation in a sport does not equal 60 minutes of activity each day. It “depends on the sport, the position that they play, and how much time they get on the field.”