Parents and teachers should be very aware of how important regular exercise is for a child’s physical development. We’ve previously discussed some of the benefits of getting your child involved in youth sports. For many though, it can be quite a surprise to learn how useful exercise, especially team games, can be at helping a child to develop social skills.
Social success is built on our ability to communicate correctly and appropriately. From simple tasks such as remembering peoples’ names to more complex activities such as giving and receiving compliments, communicating is a skill we need to master early and effectively. Team sports such as soccer are a perfect medium for learning about communication. In order to function effectively a team member has learn to be both the communicator and the one communicated with. Simply remembering names and calling them out across a soccer pitch is a start to learning these skills, as is effectively giving direction to a teammate.
- Being Part of a Group:
Not all children know automatically how to join a group. There is a process of negotiation that they have to go through before they can comfortably join, and before the group is willing to allow them to join. Children need to understand the rules of give and take as well as understanding their role within a group. For example, not all members of a group can be leaders. Some members have opinions that the group will want to hear, and others won’t. A sports team is a perfect structure for learning these skills. The rules of the game provide a framework for the children to operate within.
- Standing up for yourself:
Learning how to assert yourself is one of the most difficult skills a child needs to learn. Some children are vulnerable, while aggressive or bullying children may need to learn that there are many ways of expressing your viewpoint more effectively. Children need to learn how to be assertive without being offensive and once again the framework of a team game provides a perfect environment. Adam McAllister from Champion Soccer says “Team sports such as football (soccer) or rugby can help build a child’s confidence and prepare them for later life. Some of my longest friendships are with those I met on the field.” It is easy for children to experiment with ways of standing up for themselves when they do it as part of a team. Team training is a perfect situation for them to learn the difference between assertiveness and aggressiveness which is especially important for over confident children who run the risk of becoming domineering.