Taking part in organised sport can play an important role in your child’s development. Through sport, children learn about health and teamwork as well as develop their kinaesthetic awareness and coordination.

The best type of activity for your child will depend upon a number of factors. By far the most important will be their level of enjoyment. However, other emotional and social factors may come into the mix. If you have a shy child, for example, do you want to give them a safe place to learn and compete through an individual sport, or would they be better off developing socially within a team environment?

Conversely, if your child is more of a ‘social butterfly’ will they be better off in an environment that encourages the social interaction that they love, or would they benefit more from developing their concentration and focus through an individual sport?

Individual sports
Through one-on-one coaching from an experienced mentor, kids can quickly develop self-confidence and discipline. Here, gender equality and individual achievements are prioritised and celebrated. Children who tend to excel at individual sports may be the kind of people who don’t want to have to depend on a teammate to do well, and would like to better themselves mentally, physically and emotionally. If this is an apt description of your child, then individual sports like martial arts, athletics, swimming, gymnastics and tennis could be right for them.

Team sports
As well as the physical benefits that come from competing in any sport, in a team environment children learn the importance of teamwork, thinking about others and also get to develop social skills and empathy. Children can also build a network of friends through team sports making them less likely to feel isolated. In this way, team sports can help children overcome shyness, as well as learning how to cope with winning and losing. They are also in an arena that the whole family can get involved in and spend quality time together.

If you are considering signing your child up for a sport, have a chat with them and ask which activity appeals to them most. They may prefer a particular activity simply because they already have a good understanding of it, or because they have friends who play, and these are both completely valid reasons for them to have a go. Of course, there will be a lot of other factors, like your location, budget and how much time you can dedicate, but the most important factor in this decision should be the happiness of your child.

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