How Organized Sports Can Help Children Develop Emotionally

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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.

How organized sports can help children develop emotionally“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.

Study Methodology

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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  1. I can see this. My son never liked sports though, and I don’t like to push kids into doing something they don’t like, so I never forced it. My daughter has played some sports before. She got bored though and usually did them one year and that was it. Right now she’s into theatre, which has team building, so that’ll probably be her thing.

  2. I’ve always believed in the incredible power of sports to help shape kids. WHEN it’s done correctly. Learning to work with others and be a team player is great.

  3. Those findings are really interesting. I definitely appreciate the physical and mental benefits. It’s so nice when the kids find a sport they like and you see them thrive!

  4. I sure believe this. My son, however, has tried many different sports and doesn’t like any of them. We finally found archery that he loves. I’m going to keep trying though for other sports, bc I believe this to be true.

  5. I can’t get my son to try any type of sports and he really needs to but I don’t want to push him so I need to opt for something else that he can do. Sports teach so much more than the actual sports

  6. I’m such a big fan of organized sports. My twins are almost 14 and are still learning the art of good sportsmanship, but the benefits definitely outweigh the negatives.

  7. Sports definitely can help hone kids to greatness mentally and physically. It is a good way of making them busy I suppose

  8. There are so many benefits for kids to play organized sports. I wish my son would have shown more interest when he was younger.

  9. All my kids loved sports! My daughter did volleyball, while my two sons were into baseball. I think getting involved in organized sports taught them how to become a team player. They also learned discipline, sportsmanship and camaraderie while having fun.

  10. It would be best for parents to introduce their children to different sports and let them choose one which they really like. I think team/organized sports provide a child an opportunity to develop skills that would help them to grow up to be responsible adults.

  11. Organized sports are definitely a plus! My son played both soccer and baseball and I’m definitely glad he learned lessons from team sports.

  12. We were just talking about this the other day. Sports really do help kids with things like coordination, strategizing, etc. All about having a balanced mind and body.

  13. I totally buy this because as a school teacher, I have seen it play out. I know that kids who play organized sports (unless they are in it only for the trophy) have a strong confidence level that serves them well.


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