Pediatric doctor explains benefit of children participating in sports

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Tuesday, August 9, 2022
Pediatric doctor on importance of children playing sports
As kids return to school, consider encouraging them to participate in sports or other organized activities.

Being part of a sports team is a great way for kids to stay active, make friends, learn teamwork and have fun. But it can be difficult for parents to decide which sport best fits their child.

Dr. Elizabeth Davis, who specializes in pediatric sports medicine, said the best way to to get and keep your child interested in a sport is to let them choose which one to participate in.

"If a kid sees on TV gymnastics or figure skating or football and they decide they want to try that, let them try that," she said.

But what should parents do if they have a child that doesn't show any preference for a particular sport? Davis said to let them try several different ones.

"Sign them up for a few lessons. If they like it, great. They can stick with it. If they don't like it, then it's something you don't have to sign them up for the next season and they can move onto something else."

What if your child starts a sport but then loses interest? Davis said there is a value to having the child honor their commitment.

"You really should encourage your child, unless they're in a dangerous situation or they're getting hurt or you're really concerned for their safety, that they really do need to finish the season."

Davis also said its important to pick a sport that fits your child. If your child does not want to participate in a team sport, perhaps suggest more individualized sports like swimming, golf or tennis.

"You're still going to see the same benefits from a health perspective because they're still having a practice, they're still having to exert themselves and get the physical activity."

For most children a good time to start sports is around the age of four. That's when they have developed a longer attention span and the ability to follow directions.