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The Negative Effects of Youth Sports
Children love sports, but since they are still developing physically and mentally, they may encounter some negative effects. If possible, choose an organized-sports league that actively promotes healthy attitudes and lifestyles among its members. With a supportive environment and the right encouragement, you will be able to minimize the chances of either physical or mental injuries to your child.
A 2009 report published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) outlines some common risks of injuries for children in sports. These include sprains and strains (muscle, ligament and tendon injuries), growth plate injuries (damage to areas of tissue growth near the ends of bones in growing children), repetitive motion injuries and heat-related illnesses. To avoid these injuries, the NIH recommends researching the sports organization you enroll your child in to make sure it has officials and coaches trained in CPR and first aid. Also, the NIH recommends that your child have all necessary protective gear. Finally, make sure your child stays hydrated and follows the safety rules of the sport.
Competitive sports may be too stressful for children, according to a report by James White and Gerald Masterson, Ph.D. on FamilyResource.com. They cite research that shows that children may experience “burnout,” a stress reaction that results from overtraining and an environment that tells children to “play at all costs.” The authors of the report advise parents to avoid pressuring children to specialize in just one sport, as this may make children feel they must perform rather than have fun. Instead, allow children to play all the different sports they wish. Also, create an environment for your children that decreases the competitive aspect of sports in favor of its fun and enjoyable aspects.
Nemours is a non-profit organization that provides information about child health and safety via its website KidsHealth.org. It warns parents that children in sports use high levels of energy and have an increased chance of injury, so it is important that they receive proper nutrition. The organization offers dietary advice and guidance for parents of children who play sports. If possible, ask a dietitian or nutritionist about what nutritional risks your children face and to help you construct a diet that supplies your children with all the nutrients they need.
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