You may want your child to play a sport because you enjoyed playing when you were younger, or maybe your child has shown interest in a sport and wants to start playing. No matter what the reason, if your child is on the cusp of signing up for football, softball, or tennis, it is extremely important to consider these five things before they put their name on that list.
Potential for Concussions
One of the first things you should consider very carefully is whether or not there is the potential for concussions. Millions of concussions happen every year, and they can result in some serious problems for your child. Common symptoms include:
- Sleep disruptions
- Behavior changes
- Memory loss
- Personality changes
Concussions can be dangerous to a growing brain, so you’ll want to weigh the pros and cons of certain sports before allowing your child to play. For example, you may want to prevent your child from playing football or ice hockey until they are older. Instead, allow them to play flag football or enroll them in ice skating lessons while they are very young.
Time and Commitment
It is important for you to encourage your child to consider the time and commitment their new sport will require. Some sports can require a lot of time at practice after school, which can be difficult for students who also need to focus on academics. It can also be difficult for children who enjoy sleeping in on the weekends when they have to set their alarm early on Saturday morning to make it to a game.
In addition, you have to think about the amount of time and commitment it will require of you and your family. It isn’t uncommon for families to spend the better part of the day driving around town to go to practices, lessons, and games. If you don’t want to spend most evenings and weekends driving your child around town, you may want to encourage them to choose a less time consuming activity.
You should never allow your child to sign up for a sport without first considering exactly how much it’s going to cost. You may end up paying hundreds or even thousands more than you expected.
Some sports are more expensive than others. For example, parents can be expected to spend a lot of money with kids in gymnastics and ice hockey. Travel is especially expensive, as are lessons.
In contrast, you’ll pay a lot less to support a student who plays basketball or joins the cross country team. Less long-distance traveling is involved, practice takes the place of lessons, and there’s almost no equipment to buy.
If your student is determined to join a costly sport, don’t shy away from discussing how they can help pay for it. That may encourage them to take that part-time job you have been nagging them about.
Likelihood of Sticking With It
It’s always a good idea to think carefully about the likelihood that your child will stick with the sport they have chosen. There are some good lessons to be had when encouraging your child to stick with an activity that they want to quit, but that can cause a lot of stress. If they do end up quitting, you may find yourself frustrated that you invested so much time and money into a sport that they didn’t get anything out of.
If your child bounces from idea to idea, or if they only want to play because their friend plays, you may want to prevent them from signing up. Instead, wait until they show genuine interest in a sport for a longer period of time to increase the chances that they will stick with it.
Involvement in Other Activities
You and your student may want to impress future colleges by demonstrating their involvement in multiple activities, but it shouldn’t come at the cost of your child’s mental or physical health.
If your child is involved in multiple activities already, you may want to encourage them to give up their dream of joining another sport. If they are really focused on giving swimming or soccer a try, you may want to encourage them to drop something else so they don’t become overwhelmed.
Playing sports is great for kids, but that doesn’t mean every sport is created equal. There are many things you will want to consider before you sign your child’s name on the dotted line to ensure your child and your family get the most out of the experience.