Sports & Fitness

5 Life Lessons Kids Can Learn From Sports

Nov 17, 2015

Parents and guardians sign their children up for sports for many different reasons—including the opportunity to teach kids important life lessons, like communication, time management and committment. 

However, sports don't magically teach life lessons. It’s important that parents thoughtfully support their children in transferring experiences on fields, courts, pools or ice to the classroom, relationships and (one day!) work.

Here are five tips for parents, who play an important role in helping children absorb what they learn from sports and transform it into life skills: 

1. Communication

It’s natural to feel upset when your child is in tears at the dinner table because of a coach’s decision. As a parent, your natural reaction is to protect your child.

In some instances, you may have to get involved in the situation; however, resist the urge to react immediately. You may miss an opportunity to equip your child with the valuable skill of expressing her point of view in a mature and concise way. 

Role play a conversation between your child and the coach so she can practice articulating her concerns.

This way, your child will become more equipped to state her points of concern in a confident and clear tone. It also allows her to hear the coach’s point of view. Don’t forget to discuss both verbal and non-verbal communication!

2. Emotions 

Playing sports can evoke lots of emotions—some good and some bad. Discuss potential scenarios with your children before they happen. Invite them to find solutions for different situations, like trouble at practice or high-stakes championship games, meets or matches. 

When kids have time to think about the consequences of their actions, they can consider how they may react. This prepares them to present themselves in the way they would like to be perceived.

As children age, remind them this is a useful strategy for many social situations they will be faced with in the future.

3. Commitment

Sometimes, sports may not be fun for your children. For example, kids may have to deal with an injury or not having the desired amount of playing time.

While it’s one thing to tell a child, “that’s life!”, it's more productive to challenge him to find joy through the commitment.  There's a sense of accomplishment that comes with perseverance and rehabilitating an injury alongside practice means a kid can still be part of a group or team. 

It's important that kids understand how to stay committed to a situation they signed up for, just as it’s important for adults to see commitments through.

You'll Also Love: How To Support Sports—At All Ages And Stages

4. Time Management 

Many of us remember the stress that came with returning home after a late game or practice to the reality of an exam or project due the next day at school.

It's important that parents do not make excuses or enable extensions on schoolwork. Rather, teach your children how to plan their schedule so schoolwork is not jeopardized due to sports. 

Time management is a valuable skill at all stages of life and sports provide many young people with the chance to practice this skill as youngsters. Use busy days as opportunities to teach kids about planning and scheduling their time.

5. Integrity

Sometimes it's tempting for children (and adults) to take short cuts in sports for perceived short-term gain. The problem with this is that it teaches bad habits. 

If a ball goes out of bounds, or a puck doesn’t cross the goal line, it's important that children do the right thing. Help kids understand what integrity is and how they can play a role in making sure it's the common standard in sport. 

Support your kids in making the right decisions, even if it means things are harder in the immediate future.

Sports provide so many unique opportunities to teach kids valuable life lessons. Parents, guardians, coaches and friends must work together to ensure young people are fully supported in understanding how to transfer these lessons to school, work and social situations.

Dr. Amanda Stanec is a proud native of Nova Scotia and resides in St. Louis, Missouri.  A former board of director member of Physical and Health Education Canada, Dr. Stanec is the founder of Move Live Learn, a consulting firm that supports the sport, physical education and health sectors through a social justice lens. Recent clients include NFL Play 60, Nova Scotia Department of Education, The Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation and Boys & Girls Clubs of America. 

Connect with Move Live Learn on Twitter and Facebook.

Add New Comment

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Submission Policy

Note: The CBC does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that CBC has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Please note that comments are moderated and published according to our submission guidelines.