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Child Development Within Competitive Sports

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Child Development within Competitive Sports

Competitive sports play a vital role in the development on young children. They create friendships, build character, and push the values of teamwork and cooperation. Are all competitive sports like this for children, or is there a much darker side to it? In our modern society today there is a huge emphasis being put on being number one, the top dog. Doing whatever it takes to reach the top even it if it requires you to leave a pile of bodies behind you. This “If you’re not first you’re last” mindset is being taught to children which are bringing down the positivity that competition can bring to children.

One of the biggest influences of how a child will act within a social sports setting are the parents. They are the ones living with the children teaching them values, and hopefully right from wrong. Sadly, all parents aren’t the great compasses of morality that are society wants them to be, they fight, are petty, and the parents themselves have the must win mentality. Children are like sponges they soak up many of the ideas, values, and beliefs that their parents have. Many parents will be sad, or actually punish their children if they don’t perform well or win in a sports event. This is counterproductive to what gains competitive sports are supposed to bring. If the parent places the focuses of their children just to win the child is going to have pretty bad sportsmanship whenever they lose, and will most likely have bad sportsmanship even when they win! To reap all of the benefits that competitive sports has to offer it has to start at the parental level, and the minds of the children need to be tailored to positive task oriented goals, instead of negative ego oriented goals.

A lot of parents live through their children. What this means is that they missed opportunities or just miss the sport they played as a child. They want to relieve their glory moments and if the child doesn’t meet their expectations they get punished or they disappoint their parent. This cant occur for positive growth to develop through sports, parents need to realize their role in the game is a spectator, and a positive one at that. Parents should do nothing more at competitive sports events than cheering on their team and child. Every child wants to please and gain their parents approval, and if they have to do that by winning, they will do anything possible to win. This brings in the aspect of cheating and unsportsman like attitudes.

For children to have positive good sportsman like attitude the coaches, parents, or instructors need to focus on task oriented goals compared to ego oriented goals. Task oriented goals are goals that put focus on improvement, enjoyment, mastery of a skill, and teamwork or cooperation. Ego oriented goals are goals that put focus on approval, status, and of course winning. Whichever emphasis is placed on the child either task goals or ego, can drastically affect the outcome of their sportsmanship and the amount of skills they away from sports and the ability to apply them to the real world. A huge part of task oriented goals in the push for teamwork. Teamwork helps promote growth in areas such as: communication, problem solving, and belonging. Cooperation and teamwork are key not only for a child’s positive development, but are a key in winning. Wanting to win isn’t a bad thing, having to win at all costs no matter what is what makes winning dangerous. If a team consistently wins they aren’t learning much, when you lose you learn from your mistakes and become a better person, player, teammates, ect. Especially at a young age it is more important for children to grow



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