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Parents would hardly argue about the need for kids to engage in sport activities, as a crucial part of their development. However, is it sufficient to leave them to play on their own?
Research has shown multiple benefits for us parents to play sport with our children, especially for kids aged 3-10 years.
We get the opportunity to become their role model
As we play with our children, we get to demonstrate personal values and life skills, such as teamwork, sportsmanship and dealing with losing. Are our kids too young to learn? You will be surprised – they observe and imitate far better than we can imagine.
We get precious time-out
Many of us are likely working parents. If coping with daily work and chores does not already sound a handful, doesn’t making time to play with our kids make it even more tiring? Not if we choose to see it as much-needed time-out and work-out for ourselves.
We get to improve our organization and time management
Once we commit to being part of - and actually look forward to - our kids’ activities, we are compelled to review how we manage our time. By getting more done within the same amount of time, we get to improve our efficacy and efficiency. The crux is a sustainable routine that fits into our daily schedule.
We get to bond with our kids, over happy memories
While getting that break from tedious routine, engaging in activities with our children becomes precious bonding time (that we will thank ourselves for as we watch them grow up). In making activities fun, both adults and children co-create happy memories – even for us adults, we are never too old to laugh and play.
We get to learn something new
Studies have shown that when our children start to play sport, it encourages an increase parents’ own sports participation. When our children sign up for an activity that we have never tried before, some of us may even be prompted to learn the sport ourselves.
We get to improve communication
As we become more involved in our kids’ activities, it creates more opportunities and time for us to talk to our children – including the need to give them feedback and advice. Not only that, we probably see a mirrored increase in communication with our spouse – in sharing the day’s highlights or discussing how to manage issues.
We get to make new friends
Yes, this is not something that only happens for our kids. When we support or participate in their sport activities, we get a chance to socialize with other sporting parents and coaches. In no time, we are probably part of some interest group on social media or group chats with like-minded parents.
We can go on counting the pros, but parents should be mindful of potential downsides too. Knowing that committing additional time and energy is inevitable, this may result in more stress on ourselves. We may also unconsciously start to impose higher, or sometimes unrealistic, expectations on our children. In being so involved in our kids’ plans, there may also be increased disagreement with our spouse.
Ultimately, we must bear in mind that being a good sport parent takes time and practice. There is no perfect parenting style, only one that best suits you and your family.