Your child’s level of self-esteem is so important to their success and happiness throughout life. A positive self-esteem is key to a psychological wellbeing. Children who have a positive self-esteem are better able to cope with winning and losing both in sports and in life in general.
Often our children feel negatively about themselves for so many reasons, but getting them involved in playing team sports can do wonders for their self-esteem, confidence levels and their outlook on life.
A study by ‘Psychology of sport and exercise’ (2009) found that children who spent more time in team sports reported a higher sports self-concept, which, in turn, was associated with higher self-esteem than their peers.
Team sports allow children to –
Hold shared goals with their peers
Nothing makes a child feel that their goals are worthwhile more than if their peers share those goals. Working towards something as a group such as perfecting skills, entering a tournament, climbing a league table is a great way of getting kids to work together in a positive way.
Children will learn that through practice and hard work they are able to achieve goals as long as those goals are realistic ones. This gives them a sense of control, which is so important.
You can work with your child to assist them in setting realistic goals, which will help them to avoid feelings of failure. If they have their heart set on a goal, which is likely to be a stretch, help them to set some reasonable short-term goals along the way.
Team sports teach children that in being part of a team they are part of a wider community. In adolescence, when children tend to be particularly self-focussed, this is a valuable opportunity for teaching them to pay attention to their teammates.
Contribute towards something that really matters to them
When children feel that they are making real decisions about something that really matters to them it makes them feel important and worthwhile. They feel that their opinion is valuable and that their contribution is appreciated. So encourage your child to offer ideas; once they realise those ideas are appreciated they will be more likely to put themselves forward next time.
After a team game or training, ask your child about their personal highlight or achievement in the session rather than whether the team won or lost. Praise them for their contribution and tell them how valuable it was to the overall team performance.
Have their voice heard
If managed appropriately, children who are part of a team can develop fantastic communication skills; learning to both voice their opinion and develop listening skills. Children who feel they are being heard and taken notice of will feel that what they are saying is important and therefore they themselves are worthwhile members of the group.
Children will learn that if they show respect to others they will receive it back again. A child who is accustomed to giving and receiving respect is more likely to be included, both in sports and in other aspects of life.
Make new friends
Team sports are great for widening a child’s social circle. Being part of a team automatically gives a child a group of people who they will get to know. While this does not necessarily mean they will all be friends, the likelihood is your child will find at least one or two others that they will connect with.
Psychologists believe that participation in team sports is positively associated with social acceptance and a sense of belonging, especially when this participation also includes positive coaching, the progressive development of skills, and support from their peers.
Enjoy a healthy lifestyle
Sports can put children in touch with their body, learning what it can and can’t do, and as a team children can be coached to positively focus on the strengths of each team member. Children will become aware of their body’s abilities and skills, which will allow them to feel pride in themselves.
With childhood obesity on the increase and opportunities for children to partake in physical activity decreasing, there is even more benefit from participating in team sports.
Children who get into the habit of being active from a young age are much more likely to carry these healthy habits on through to adulthood, so getting your kids active and involved now could benefit them for a lifetime.
By Julie Fyles