As their children grow up, every set of parents has a different idea as to what should be the main focus of their upbringing and how they should spend their free time, especially when it comes to extra-curricular activities. Some parents place a huge emphasis on academics and want their children doing extra reading or working with a tutor. Other parents are heavily into sports and want their children to focus on sports. Some parents simply want their children to be children and don’t push them in any particular direction at all.

In most cases, schools give children at least some opportunity to participate in a team sport. Along with the team sports that are taught during physical education classes, there are usually a few varsity sports teams that will represent the school while competing against other schools in the area. In addition to this, most communities have a few organized sports leagues that children can be active in.

In my opinion, participation in team sports is vital to healthy social, physical and emotional development. Participating in a sports team exposes children to a range of challenges in a team environment where they are forced to work with others, rely on others at times and also to encourage or root for others on their team. All of this leads to the development of a cooperative mindset. Now although all of this sounds ideal, I am aware that it does not always work out this way. Some times a child might be a ‘ball hog’ and refuse to pass the ball, or want to score all of the goals themselves. But with time, even this child learns at some point that they must work with others if they want to see true success.

Some kids just love sports and have a natural tendency towards them. There is very little that a parent could do to stop a child like this from participating in sports. Other children are quite nonchalant about sports, and some children even hate sports. A variety of factors can influence the way that children feel about sports. Sometimes they are shy or insecure about the abilities yet with a little encouragement they will get out there and do fine. At times, a child may have a physical attribute that they are conscious or overly conscious about that stops them from doing a sporting activity they would love. I encourage parents to find at least one team sport that their children can become involved in. Not all team sports have to be high impact activities or ‘popular’ sports. A swim team is great for a child that is not boisterous or overly physical. Some schools have sailing as an extra curricular activity which again falls outside of the typical team sport.

I believe that team sports teach children not only how to compete, but how to compete fairly within structured boundaries. This is an important life lesson and the skills and the disciplines that they learn in sports will definitely last them a lifetime. Team sports will teach children how to communicate, since most team sports require children not only to talk to each other while the activity is taking place but also how to plan strategies for an upcoming event and how to debrief or review things that have happened in a game. Perhaps most importantly, team sports teach children how to succeed and how to fail since inevitably throughout each season of their sport their team will do both. With every win and loss, children learn coping skills. These again are important skills to develop in a child and they will last them throughout life.