You may hate giving up every weekend of your life to watch your children’s 1,000 baseball games, soccer games or whatever other sport they’re interested in, but research says organized sports are playing a vital role in your child’s emotional health.
The new study, conducted by a research team at Université de Montréal, found that children who engage in organized physical sports by the age of 6 are less likely to have emotional difficulties by the time they turn 12. All the findings will be published in the journal Pediatric Research later this month.
“The elementary school years are a critical time in child development,” said Frédéric N. Brière, a Université de Montréal professor of psycho-education who led the study. “And every parent wants to raise w well-adjusted child.”
Brière said that besides keeping children from being sedentary, structured sports have the potential to enrich children’s lives physically and mentally.
The study followed a group of children over time who were born in 1997 or 1998 who were part of the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development coordinated by the Institut de la Statistique du Québec.
The purpose was to understand if participation in organized sports from the ages of 6-10 would minimize the risks associated with emotional distress, anxiety, shyness and social withdrawal at the age of 12.
“Our goal was to test this question as critically as possible by eliminating pre-existing child or family conditions that could offer an alternative explanation,” Brière said.
From the ages of 6 to 10, mothers reported if their children had participated in organized physical activity. At age 12, teachers reported on the levels of emotional distress, anxiety, shyness and social withdrawal.
“The results revealed that children who participated consistently from ages 6 to 10 showed fewer instances of those factors at age 12 than their counterparts who did not engage in physical activity in a consistent way,” said Brière. “We found these benefits above and beyond pre-existing individual and family characteristics.
Getting kids actively involved in organized sport seems to promote global development,” Brière continued. “This involvement appears to be good on a socio-emotional level and not just because of physical benefits. Being less emotionally distressed at the juncture between elementary and high school is a priceless benefit for children, as they are about to enter a much larger universe with bigger academic challenges. This research supports current parental guidelines promoting children’s involvement in physical activity.”
For more on this study, and to read the abstract, click here to visit the publication of Pediatric Research.
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