Your Child and Organized Sports

Few commitments have the kind of payoff that a child receives from playing sports. Sports participation enhances physical fitness during childhood while helping develop healthy habits for adulthood. A child gains experience in cooperation, self-discipline and perseverance, all while having a good time.

Reaping the Rewards
No matter what a child's interests are -- baseball, tae kwon do, swimming or running -- your child is likely to find a sport that he or she enjoys. And, whether your child chooses an individual or team sport, the health and fitness benefits associated with physical activities are the most obvious. By practicing good fitness and eating habits early in life, a child can increase the chances of growing into a healthy adult.

Sports participation can motivate the couch potato, occupy the child who has idle time, minimize the habits of the fast-food junkie and relieve stress. Plus, the personal and emotional rewards can last a lifetime -- self-esteem, social skills and dedication.

Getting Started
The best sport for a child is one that the youngster finds fun and interesting. To encourage a healthy and active lifestyle, you might casually expose your child to a variety of physical activities and let the child's desires and abilities act as a guide to further commitment.

Spend some one-on-one time with your child practicing and learning different sports and recreational activities. Don't limit instruction to one area; instead allow your child the freedom to try different sports.


If your child is interested in a particular sport, check out the programs available at school, through your city's parks and recreation association, religious organizations or civic clubs. And, make sure the youngster has the proper equipment for the sport -- equipment that fits properly, is in good condition and has all the appropriate safety features. A child is likely to enjoy a sport more if allowed to learn in a relaxed atmosphere while having fun and receiving support and encouragement from adults. Athletics for youngsters should be thought of as a means of entertainment and recreation. Adults shouldn't pressure a young child to focus only on winning even if exceptional promise is shown.

Even a young athlete who might show natural talent in a particular sport must work hard and show dedication in order to succeed. Almost any child even if less skilled than his or her peers can improve with positive support and coaching. Keep in mind, however, that enrolling your child in an organized sport, is also a commitment on your part. Your child will need appropriate equipment, transportation and, of course, your support.

So your child can enjoy the activity to the fullest, you may want to consult with your doctor about participation in organized sports. A pre-sports checkup should include a complete physical exam.

If your child has experienced chronic health conditions in the past, don't rule out sports participation. Ask your doctor whether a specific activity might be appropriate for your child.

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