Sport can be good for children in many ways.
For example, sport gives children the chance to:
enjoy physical activity, develop physical skills and build fitness
learn about teamwork, cooperation and other life skills
make new friends outside of school
experience emotional highs and lows like winning well, bouncing back from defeat and coping with injury.
Sport also teaches children about how important it is to try your best, even if this doesn’t always mean winning. For example, your child might do a great job of running and kicking the ball, but her soccer team might still lose the match. It’s all about how you and your child see the experience.
You are your child’s most important role model.
When you’re watching sport together, it can help to be aware of your comments. You can encourage a positive sporting attitude by cheering on your team for their efforts, even if they’re losing badly. Abusing a team, umpire or anyone else for a loss can send a negative message to your child.
It’s also good to point out and praise athletes who don’t come first. You can talk to your child about how hard the athlete tried, despite the result. You might like to give some examples of athletes you admire who don’t always win, but who are known as good sports.
And when your child comes home after playing sport, ask your child whether she had fun rather than asking whether she won or lost. Focus on enjoyment, participation, effort and being a good sport.
As children get older, the emphasis in sport shifts to a more adult, winning-focused style. This can leave some children behind.
If your child isn’t enjoying sport anymore, you can help him think about ways to stay involved – for example, changing to a different team, coach, sport or physical activity. This might mean he can still get the physical and social benefits of sport without the focus on competition and the pressure to win.