Parenting: Too young for sports?
February 24, 2012 (WPVI) -- At all of two, my son is playing tennis, football, and basketball - well, he is if you have a very generous definition of the sports.
A local company, aimed at teaching sports concepts to toddlers, comes once a week and highly modifies the equipment and rules so he and his little friends can play.
Sometimes they get it, sometimes it all falls apart but judging from the picture, they always enjoy it.
That got me thinking about the right time for little ones to get serious about sports. About a year ago a story in the New York Times got my attention. It was about parents seriously getting their two and three year olds into sports like golf and tennis, in hopes of training up the next Tiger Woods or Michelle Wie.
Evidence suggests that most kids are not ready to consider competitive sports until seven or eight. Before that sports should be about fun and exploration.
Is your child into activities with other kids or are they better at solo sports like running? Going too hard, too early can have serious consequences: Parenting.com cites statistics from the CDC that show almost 3.5 million kids a year under age 14 are now getting treatment for sports injuries like shoulder and elbow problems.
KidsHealth.org points out that most kids can't even coordinate skills like throwing and running, or keep an adequate attention span until about first or second grade. And they definitely have trouble with aspects of teamwork, like taking turns.
When you do get your kids into physical activity, be prepared for changes. One year you may try karate, the next football until finally discovering your kid is designed to be a soccer champ.
The website also suggests putting some thought into the place of sports in your family life.
Kids need time to rest, play and dream. You also want them to have time to interact with you and their siblings.
So how serious are you willing to get about sports, especially if they will require hours of practice, drive time and game time on evenings and weekends? There will be time to figure it all out but for this tender toddler age your yardsticks should be simple:
- Is your child healthy enough for light sports?
-Is the program structured well for their little bodies and attenion spans?
-Will it help him get at least an hour of movement (the recommendation to ward off childhood obesity)?
-How much is he/she laughing and smiling?
tamala edwards parenting reports, parenting, tamala edwards
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