As studies have suggested, sport can lead to more than just physical health in a child’s life. It removes anxiety and depression in girls while improving academic performance in boys. Sport also has the power to strengthen a child’s social skills, particularly, their ability to build healthy relationships. Here are some examples of how children learn to develop and maintain good relationships through sport.
· Reflection of performances - Whether it is a little league match or high school tournament, people always see a different side to their children. They can hog the ball or shy away when an opportunity arises. It happens all the time on T.V and it certainly happens in everyday life - it’s normal. However, as a child does more sport, they learn to play as part of a team which subsequently teaches them how to interact with others around them. As a result, children develop the necessary skills for building friendships and professional connections later on in life.
· Working together - As a member of a sports team, a child has the responsibility to react to multiple situations in a variety of ways. This means that, at times, they may need to lead the team just as others might do when it’s their turn. Participating in sport regularly raises children’s awareness of situations, allowing them to recognise when the best time is to take action and when to let others make the first move. Once they get it right, children can see the benefits to appropriate leadership and they can incorporate it into their later professional lives.
· Talking it out - Playing sport gives children the opportunity to share any problems they have. As they open up, they also learn to trust other people with important personal information. Doing this at an early age will encourage children to communicate more freely with others, setting a strong foundation for healthy personal relationships when they reach adulthood.
So, by working in teams and actively communicating with others, children can build the trust and confidence necessary for them to maintain future relations. It also opens doors for self- reflection, allowing them to evaluate their performances and make changes to how they interact with other children. By doing all of this in a fun environment, children can develop their interpersonal skills and prepare themselves for future relationships in their personal and working lives.
Written by Aaron Jay-Chelliah
Oxford Handbooks - Relationships and Sport and Performance: http://www.oxfordhandbooks.com/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199731763.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780199731763-e-21
Livestrong - Why Should Children Play Sport: http://www.livestrong.com/article/160825-why-should-children-play-sports/
Better Health Channel: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/sport-and-children
Psychological and Social Benefits of Playing True Sport: http://truesport.org/resources/publications/reports/psychological-and-social-benefits-of-playing-true-sport/