Sport is a wonderful metaphor for life. It teaches us things like perseverance, hard work, determination, teamwork, sportsmanship, endurance, and so much more. Even ancient writings from the Bible (“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race”), Lao Tzu (“Every journey begins with a single step”), and Aristotle (“The ideal man is the scholar athlete–a man of thought and a man of action”) are replete with lessons that can be applied to sports.
For this reason, parents and teachers can use sports as a tool for building character and imparting wisdom. Whether your kids end up professional athletes is only secondary to the life lessons they can gain through participating in a sport. Not only will they end up healthier, they’ll also be more balanced and well-rounded.
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Here are some valuable lessons it can teach your children:
1. Handling Pressure
Sports provide children with necessary pressure and obstacles. While we, as parents, may feel the urge to insulate our kids from difficulty, we need to let them learn how to deal with challenges and growing pains.
Allowing your kids to participate in soccer game or and athletic competition is a great way to prepare them for real-world struggles. By the time they come of age, they’ll be mature enough to handle themselves under pressure.
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Athletes approach life with hunger and competitive drive. They are more willing to handle obstacles and sacrifice to be successful. Raising your children to handle competition is a great way to fuel their hunger for success. The real world is full of competition, so it’s best to prepare them for it.
However, the desire to win should never supersede fair play and honesty. If you’re planning to let your child compete, make sure they understand the limits of healthy competition.
3. Hard Work And Discipline
The world of sports is tough. Being an athlete requires commitment, discipline, and a lot of hard work. Getting your kids to wake up at 6am for varsity practice and push forward until it hurts teaches them the value of giving your all.
In life, as in sports, it’s the people who are disciplined enough and who work hard enough that become successful. Getting your kids into sports early in life is key to developing good habits and sacrificing for success.
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4. Losing Gracefully
Life isn’t always rainbows and butterflies. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose. However, at the end of day, what really matters is our response to our circumstances–especially in the times when we lose.
Sports teaches your kids how to cope with difficulties (a.k.a. not to be a sore loser) and how to hurdle challenges. This is something that can help them later in life, when the demands and responsibilities become more difficult.
As parents, we are responsible for developing the character and personality of our children. Through sports, we can provide our children with values and virtues that will ultimately make them better people as they get older.