Getting your Kids to Playing Sports and being a Sport

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Being a parent, I can vouch for the fact that sports are an integral part of a child’s overall development. But then one doesn’t need to be a parent to realize it. Is the stated fact supposed to be a revelation of sorts, one might wonder? Well, come to think of it again, and it’s not such a pleasant experience, I can assure you when as a parent, the time comes to test the fact by putting the principle in practice.

We grown-ups tend to take things rather too seriously, especially with matters concerning our kids; sports are no exception. Since we have a high degree of awareness of the importance of sports and exercise for the sound development of body and mind, we parents invariably get into some serious business of planning our kid’s sports activities. I mean, some of us tend to go so over-board that if for some reason even one session of the sports camp is missed, its blasphemy of sorts.

Yes, sports, apart from other benefits, also inculcates the spirit of competitiveness, but the manifestation of it seems more in parents than their children. Rather than focusing on the interest and physical attributes of their children to help them select the sports that would suit them, most parents seem to be fixated on the sports taken up by children of their friends and social acquaintances. It’s like we are a loser if our child is not a member of a particular cricket or tennis academy, which the kid from a known family in our social circle, that we secretly envy, has joined.

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The point being emphasized is that parents should be relaxed but participative in the process of helping their kids develop an interest in sports. Participation can simply mean that initially, parents just play a few sports informally with their children and enjoy with them. In the process, apart from cementing the parent-child bond, parents also get an opportunity to observe the strengths and weaknesses of their children and they would be better positioned to analyze the interest of the child along with their physical capabilities.

With this groundwork done with ease, parents would be able to share vital information with coaches once the child plans to pick a sport of their choice and begins training. The three-way connection between the coach-child-parents would have a far-reaching positive influence on the child. The game would be played on the field, honed in training sessions with coaches, discussed on the eating table with family, and perfected at competitions.

The process is not sacrosanct and is not a mandate to follow as all of us are not out there to carve a career for our kids in sports. The idea is to allow the child to enjoy and as parents, be with them in this process as healthy participation in sports would prepare them well for the challenges of any career they would prefer to pursue in the future. Vladimir Putin, Richard Nixon, Barack Obama, John Kerry, and Ronald Reagan are few of the well- known world leaders who were also avid sportspersons.

There are parliamentarians in India, military officers, leading legal eagles, and business tycoons who follow sports passionately and also support the cause for our young to get associated with sports. This is a good sign since sports were largely neglected till recently in our country, and academics always took precedence, but things seem to be taking a turn for the better, and parents today seem to realize the significance of sports. The enthusiasm is palpable. The parents just need to be supportive of the kids and realize that all they need is to imbibe in the spirit of “being a sport”.

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