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Monday, June 20, 2011

Sports

Baseball, softball, soccer, tennis, swimming and golf are just some of the organized sports children may be involved in this summer. The hours spent may be a time of fun or a time of stress.

This largely depends upon how you, the parent, approach your child's participation. Remember, you are a role model and your actions and attitudes will impact your child's actions and attitudes.

Begin by understanding where your child is developmentally. During the middle childhood years (ages 8-12), children's physical development varies greatly. Children this age have a need to belong, are eager for recognition and approval and want to have fun.

We're seeing a trend toward children dropping out of unhealthy competitive activities at this age.

Studies of stress in young athletes suggest those who are constantly pushed by parents and coaches run the risk of developing sports burnout. This is a total loss of interest in sports caused by anxiety and stress associated with competition.

You can help your child develop a healthy life-long interest in sports by eliminating the pressure to excel.

Iowa State Extension offers these suggestions to help make sports enjoyable for the entire family:

* Take a positive approach; praise children for the positive aspects of their performance.

* Focus on the child's developing skills and not the final score.

* Match a child's temperament to the right sport. Be realistic about a child's physical abilities.

* Use sports as a way to teach children about limits and strengths, goal setting and the importance of sports as a means of relaxation.

* Provide a variety of sports. There is time for specialization when the child is a teen.

* Allow the child to determine the importance of sports in his or her life. Parents should not use their children to relive their own athletic past or to fulfill unmet athletic goals.

* Control emotions and actions at sporting events. Support and respect the coaches and all the children playing.

* Be a positive role model. Enjoy sports.