I have a very active family. We never seem to just “Be”. We are always busy. Busy with work, sport, hobbies….just busy! I remember my mum asking me when I was younger, “do you EVER sit still??” And now I ask the same of my own children!
Here’s an example….
My son went to Dartmoor this weekend for his Ten Tors practice. Ten Tors is an annual weekend hike in early May, on Dartmoor. Organised by the British Army, starting in 1960, it brings together teams of four to six young people each, with the 2,400 young participants hiking to checkpoints on ten specified tors. He’s not entirely sure he’s made the team yet as his teachers will decide now after this last weekend practice. He came back yesterday absolutely shattered but still had to get ready for cricket today. I think he plays some kind of sport every day!
So what’s it like having such active children?
I remember when my children were both young, they must have been 4 and 2 years old and I hurt my back. I sat on the stairs and just wept. Wept because of the pain but wept more because my children just wouldn’t watch TV! I just wanted 5 minutes to sit down and relax my back but they were so busy! “Mummy, can we make biscuits?”Mummy go park?” I would hear my name being called in my sleep! We were an active family though and I possibly didn’t help myself because I liked to be out of the house too in the fresh air or meeting with friends. It was for my own sanity I expect but also because I wanted my children to enjoy being active as my hubbie and I did. I needn’t have been worried though!
Once they started school it did become easier as they were being busy at school all day. They would come home shattered and learnt to watch TV for more than 5 minutes! But we also took them swimming every Saturday morning and then to hockey on a Sunday morning. They also tried mini rugby, archery, trampolining, gymnastics, judo and ballet. They loved to climb trees, eat picnics on the trampoline, play in the mud, go for walks and play in the park.
Being at secondary school they both began to play competitive sport and oh how this has helped with my busy little people! They are teenagers now and of course they do all the usual teen things like sleep in, eat pizza and watch movies until the early hours but they are still active. Sport has been one of the most influential things in my children’s lives and I am pleased that they have both been given such wonderful opportunities.
So why has sport been so beneficial to my children?
- Sport in schools is beneficial to a child’s physical health. It’s obvious really isn’t it but in an age of such advancing technology I am worried that more and more children do not go outside as much as they need to. Physically being able to run, jump and move our bodies is part of being human. I see more and more children in schools who can’t run aged 8. That is super scary! All children should be able to run around the playground or park for half an hour and not be out of breath or tired. At 17, my daughter still plays school hockey and netball but is not so competitive as she once was. But she enjoys her sport because it keeps her fit and active and she enjoys being with her friends.
- Sport is vital for mental health. Again, we all know this but being involved in some kind of sporting activity really helps us to feel alive. It doesn’t have to be a competitive sport. Finding what sport or activity children love will help them return to this when they are adults. They will need an outlet in times of stress and sport allows this.
- Winning and losing. My son has definitely benefitted from winning matches when playing a competitive sport such as rugby or football. However, he has learnt more when he has lost. I find that boys are so competitive as tweens and teenagers and losing is an important like skill. It’s part of life to have defeats but we can pick ourselves up again and try our best. That’s the life lesson that sport has given both my children.
- Being part of a team. Playing sport in a team helps children to listen to others, play cooperatively and build character. They can practise moral and mental qualities that will transfer into other settings. Both my children have developed both friendships and leadership qualities through playing sport that will transfer into their adult lives. They were both very shy as toddlers and young children and would cling to my leg throughout whole parties or at toddler groups! Now, they will talk to unfamiliar adults or in front of their classmates without a second thought.
- Sport builds self-confidence and resilience. Playing sport helps your child value themselves. “I scored a goal! I can do it!” That feeling of winning makes us feel like we can do anything. Be cautious not to make everything about winning though as we can’t always win! Contributing to a team or playing against other children can make a child feel valued and belonging as they are with children who like the things that they do.
- Meeting other adults who make an impression. We all remember that one teacher/adult who made a positive impression on us when we were growing up. When I was growing up, it was my Primary school PE teacher who encouraged me. Positive relationships with other adults has helped my children immensely and helped to guide them to make good decisions.
- Staying connected with their friends. In this age of social media it is easy for teenagers to stay connected with their friends via their phones. However, it’s important for teenagers to connect with their friends in the real world too and sport helps with that. I love that my children have different friends in their sporting team than perhaps at school. They are meeting other teenagers from different schools thus increasing their social circle.
Now I only have a few years left watching my children play sport at school but I will be there! Even though I’ll be huddling in my huge coat and boots as it’s cold and windy, I’ll still be smiling and shouting words of encouragement! I love it now as a parent almost as much as when I played competitive sport myself. Oh! and I expect I won’t be keeping still either!
PS He made the team….looks like a trip to Dartmoor! Whoop Whoop!
OH THE JOYS OF THE OLD HOUSE IN THE SHIRES.