26
Feb
14

Is this really worth it for our kids?

It’s after 5:00 and you had to stay a few minutes later at work. Now the stress piles on, you have to get home, get her to gymnastics and him to the swimming practice and you have 15 minutes to do it. You don’t want to be that parent, the one who comes in late looking all frazzeled. You needed to stay later because that job is what puts food on the table. Sports are a luxury, why are you stressing out? You ask yourself if it’s worth it.

Let me fill in the answer for you, you seem stressed: “yes, it’s worth it.”

We have had parents tell us “its really just something to get him off the couch” or one of my favorites “I know, she’s not going to the Olympics.”. The Olympics were never the plan, (if they were, call me and we’ll talk). The couch should never be an option (if it is, call me, we’ll talk). So if we are not here just to offer some activity, or as a ticket to the Wheaties box, then what is the value of a program like Gymfinity or sports activities in general?

First off, a child’s health should be an overwhelming motivator for parents. The physical foundation that a child learns in sports is tantamount to physical success in refined movement through life. Not just the ability to skip, bounce and run, but to stand, balance, throw, and catch;  skills that kids learn that they keep their whole life. Let’s talk broader attributes that last life-long: stamina, cardio health, hand-eye/foot coordination, general kinesthetic awareness and most importantly the feeling of being healthy and loving it. No one likes to feel themselves slip out of shape. Remember the first time it dawned on you that you couldn’t still do some of the things you used to be able to do? If we get kids to love feeling healthy, they may never have that sad realization; or it may be minimal at best. In today’s society where over-fat kids are becoming the norm, don’t you want your child to be a step above? Me too. For Physical development, kids in sports makes sense.

But physical health isn’t all. There is a ton of research that shows us that kids in sports are smarter. A research team in Michigan’s Institute for the Study of Youth Sports tells us that kids in sports perform better in school than peers who don’t do sports. Parents often worry that sports will take time away from books, but the models we have seen show us that kids learn to manage their time and focus better when sports are the release from study. Study breaks are a must, we all learned that in college: when the time away from the books is constructive and healthy the reintroduction to the studies will be more focused and efficient. That’s another benefit of moving and what better way to move than at gymnastics, in a pool or on a playing field?

Last summer we attended a seminar on brain development in children, my staff and I are always hungry to learn. A whole section was done on gymnastics and swimming and the positive benefits on brain development in young children who participate in those activities. I’m sure you have seen and read some of the information we have posted around relating to brain development and your choice of Gymfinity.

So we know that for cognitive development, sports is a key to healthy children.

When kids play sports they learn to be gracious winners and learn from losing. They learn that they are part of a team, even in gymnastics where they compete alone, they are still part of a bigger team. And their team mates become their friends. What better place to find friends than at the gym doing what they love and sharing the experience with their friends? I have seen kids come through classes with friends, make it to team with friends, graduate with friends and stay life-long friends after gymnastics is over. I can’t think of a better pool, pardon the pun, than making friends with other kids in sports.

I mentioned that kids learn to win and lose well. I have said many times that a problem with kids now-a-days is that they have too much undeserved self-esteem. They are made to feel that they can do no wrong and their little egos are inflated because adults are so worried about kids “feeling bad” about themselves. In sports winning and losing teach that you are as strong as your effort. You shouldn’t get a trophy for breathing and showing up, you need to play, work hard, develop your skill and give it all you got to win. And if winning isn’t in the cards this time, then losing can motivate you to work harder and try again. The feeling of self-worth and value a child gets from this exercise (again with the pun) is invaluable. Perseverance, goal setting, determination, dedication and drive are by-products of sports participation. Those affective attributes are what your child gets from sports.

Children don’t need to be shown how to have fun, it’s natural. But as they grow their ability to have fun doing the simplest things gets grown right out of them. Little kids who used to love standing in the living room and spinning around now need a place or activity to do that helps they find that joy again. Being in a sport helps them find that smile that came with just innocently being alive. It lets them feel the exhilaration of moving and does it in conjunction with skill development. What a great and constructive trade for losing that happy silliness.

Also, did you know that most crime done by children occurs not at night, as you would assume, but between the hours of 3 and 6pm? It’s true. That after school time often finds kids with nothing to do and nowhere to be and so they get into doing stuff they shouldn’t be doing and places they shouldn’t be going. If they only had a positive activity to do after school… hey, how about taking a class? How about joining a team? Being involved in sports activities has been shown to reduce crime in children and even shown drastic reduction in drug use for kids.  I really like what sports has to offer when it comes to keeping kids healthy, happy and safe.

With the right program a child can thrive in sports and not even have to go to the Olympics (that was a joke). Once you get them off the couch and on to a team or program you can count on them being happier, healthier and growing up the way you always wanted them to. If you are sure that the coach is in it for the right reasons: namely to the benefit of children, then you are doing well by your child. If the coach is out to beat other teams at whatever cost, if they berate the children for sub-perfect performance, then it’s not the sport that is bad, it’s the coach. Find a program, like Gymfinity, that fits your child. A program that makes them smile.

So, stressed out parent with only minutes to get to the gym, is it worth it? Of course it is. You may only see some of the benefits over time but the alternative would show you it’s benefits immediately. You may be stressed but that is what parenting is all about sometimes, and if you need a release, try being the most active and vocal cheerleader that your kid has ever seen. Not only will you work out your own tension but what a great way to embarrass your pre-teen and teenage kids, but that’s a whole other benefit to discuss later.

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