CBSE made daily sports period compulsory for schools knowing the importance of sports in India. Going ahead in this, six students representing India in various international sports championships including the Commonwealth Games were granted permission to appear for their board examinations separately. Yet every parent does not want their child to become Virat or Sania. Usually, parents are found encouraging their children to pursue sports only till Class IX, because after that point academics become the priority. Most Indian parents want more doctors, engineers and IAS officers in their families.
Participation in sports is one of the ways to build a child’s self-esteem by teaching them how to set goals, work hard, accomplish tasks, understand the body, and learn from failure. However, the question is, does it really develop your child’s character?
A Sports journalist once said – “Character is built pretty much by the time you’re six or seven. Sports doesn’t build character, it reveals character.” Participation in sports at an early age can predict positive character traits, which lead to increased motivation to participate more, which in turn leads to the development and expression of character. In other words, the ways that children express themselves as they prepare for and engage in sports do reveal character, but the character that is revealed may have a basis in their sports participation.
Although sports certainly can help develop positive character traits in children, experts feel that this can only happen when key role players (like coach, teachers and parents) make a conscious decision to make character development an objective of the sport experience.
Here are some tips by which you can make sure your child learns good things from sports.
Motivate more than Criticizing
Regardless of the skill level of the child, playing sports can be a fantastic way for children to build self-esteem. Stop Saying ‘The problem is with the coach, the school, the other kids, the equipment, the schedule’ —and so on. This kind of thinking implies pessimism because it immediately rules out your child’s goals. Instead, say try saying things that rule in positive outcomes, such as, ‘You can do this!’
Make Each Failure a Moment of Learning
Sports test children’s emotional fragility. Failure should not make them want to give up instead it should motivate them to try harder the next time. If your child missed a catch that would’ve won the team the game, encourage him to practice catching from the next day. Ask him what he is going to do differently next time. Winning the game is not always important. Parents can always reward persistence and effort. Competition is a good thing, so encourage your child to find confidence in a real and meaningful way.
Keep Your Child’s Ego in Check
While losing a match can be heartbreaking for them, winning one can bring some cockiness with success. Children have far less experience keeping the ego in check, so if he or she is the best athlete in school or wins a game continuously, he may become arrogant. Try to catch this early; children evolve at different rates. Tone down their ego by showing examples of humility, respect, and gratitude using examples of great athletes who have overcome slumps or adversity.
Encourage Good Learning Not Just Marks
It is noticed that some children who focus more on sports are often not able to concentrate on studies. Winning a football match may lead to getting a C in chemistry or physics. These children need to understand that learning matters, not just grades. More importantly, what parents need to understand is that not every child has the capacity to balance both the things in his life. If he is good at sports let him focus more on that. Tell him marks don’t matter to you, (considering he doesn’t fail). Also, if he has no interest in a sport let him play that just for fun and focus more on studies.
Reward and Emphasize Good Sportsmanship
Make sure your child realizes the meaning of good sportsmanship and why it is important. He needs to understand the value of playing fair and treating fellow sportsmen the right way. Explain to him the balance between taking sports too seriously on one hand and taking it too lightly on the other. Always praise or reward sportsmanship when you see it in your child.
Lastly while enrolling your child in any of the coaching centers for sports or encouraging him to be a part of his school team, be sure to find an institution or a team where good values are actively fostered.
Yes, sports can build your child’s character, but only if the environment is structured and an asserted and planned goal is to develop character. So, if you are planning to enroll your child in a sports program, do your bit by choosing the right place and encouraging them in the right way. And who knows you might be preparing the next ‘Dhoni’ of this country.!