Olympics may lead kids into sport, but parents can help keep them on track, expert says

But what about the financial cost?

“Contact your community centre and take a look at some of their five-it-a-go days. Or they might have camps or after-school drop-in programs that don’t require a huge monetary investment up front,” said Taylor.

“If they saw a couple of sports in the Olympics that seem to strike their fancy, go for it — one or two days or couple week trials,” she said. “If they have a liking for it, you can think of a longer investment into the program.”

Physiological and social benefits

Aside from winning medals and encouraging exercise, Taylor said participation in sports has many other benefits for children, ranging from physiological to social.

“One thing that parents aren’t aware of that is so important and that is on its decline in Canada is something called child physical literacy,” she said, explaining it is the development of fundamental movements that kids need, such as running, hopping and jumping.
Seven-year-old Hannah Pierleoni, of Fairfield, Calif., soars through the air during a belly flop. Sports psychologist Shaunna Taylor says there are many non-traditional sports that can appeal to children.
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“With lower levels of activity and sports involvement, kids’ levels of physical literacy are on decline.”

 

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Sports can also help kids learn the value of sharing and listening to criticism, as well as putting their own needs behind those of their teammates.

“Their immediate gratification might have to go to the side if they are doing a far-off goal that’s important for the program,” said Taylor.