Gerber Life Family Times --- News and tips for familes of all ages and stages of life

Sports, Kids and What Parents Should Know

April 2003 Issue

Credit Card Fraud

Arbor Day--
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The First Steps
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Sports, Kids
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Make That Snack
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From T-Ball and Little League baseball to soccer and football, sports play an integral part in a child’s socialization process. Sports provide an opportunity for children of all ages to partake in an organized activity that will provide them with exercise and interpersonal skills that will benefit them all through their lives.

The “fun” level of sports should adjust to your child’s age. Elementary school games should be fun and have an absence of the win/lose factor. As children get older, they are better able to understand the appropriate level of importance to place on winning and how to balance that with sportsmanship and fair play.

Choosing the proper sport can be a challenge. Are there specific activities in which your child excels? If so, take advantage of those skills and let your child play to his or her strengths. Speed, agility, hand/eye coordination and other attributes are all variables that can be a benefit to specific sports.

What does your child like to do? Is it running, throwing a ball, kicking a ball, tumbling, balancing? Be observant and then let your child try a number of activities that incorporate those interests. Make sure your child has fun at the sport—practice shouldn’t be a chore. Also note whether your child tends toward team sports or individual activities such as track and field, gymnastics or wrestling. Be careful to not let the sport rule your child’s world. There are many other activities that carry equal importance such as homework, studying, other hobbies and family time—and there should be room for them all in your child’s life.

You have obligations as well. More often than not, your schedule (as well as your finances) will have to change to accommodate a child in sports. There are uniforms and equipment to buy, daily practices to attend and after school games. Parent’s become the transportation and cheerleading squad, so you’ll need to allow time in your schedule for this new commitment. In addition, meals will become more difficult to schedule. You’ll be eating on the run more and, most likely, eating out more—so plan for the added expense in your household budget.

Once your child has committed to a team sport, your responsibility doesn’t end there. It is time to be a supportive parent, no matter what the situation. It’s also your responsibility to set an example of sportsmanship to your child and other children. Control your emotions at games and practices. As difficult as it may be, refrain from yelling at your child, other children or the coaches. Don’t live out your own dreams of athletic greatness through your child—allow them the opportunity to create their own experience. Be respectful of the coaches and other parents.

Some additional points of which to be aware:

Some states do not require coaches to have any type of certification. Make sure coaches that will be supervising your child are properly certified. This ensures a minimal level of competency. Remember, this person is going to be making your child run laps and perform strenuous exercises and there needs to be appropriate guidelines in place for the age and abilities of the child.

Most states do not require coaches to have any certification in first aid or CPR. Ask in advance what the coach’s emergency plan is should a child be injured.

There are minimum standards for sports equipment and facilities. Equipment should be inspected for safety, reasonably new and fit properly.

Goal posts should be padded to reduce the likelihood of injury should a child come in contact with them.

Head, eye and mouth protection should be used when and where appropriate.

Playing fields should be properly maintained. There should be no holes, rocks or other debris on the field.

All children should have a physical prior to participating in any sport to ensure that there are no major health problems that could be aggravated by additional physical activity.

Above all, always make sure you tell your child often that your love for them doesn’t depend on whether they win or lose. The sense of self-esteem and teamwork developed will pay dividends throughout your child’s life.

Did You Know?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics2, each year children (under the age of 15) have more than 3.5 million sports-related injuries requiring medical treatment.

2American Academy of Pediatrics. Sports Injuries a Growing Problem in Kids.ONLINE. 2004. Available: [9 Mar. 2004].

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