In It For Health

Where health and psychology intersect

Posts Tagged ‘sports’

But WHY are older kids exercising less?

Posted by Dr. Susan on July 18, 2008

A new study finds that as kids they enter their teens, the rate of exercise drops off. I wonder if the researchers have taken a close look at the lives of teenagers and their environments. I’m quite confident that a significant part of the reason that exercise decreases is because once kids leave elementary school the amount of mandatory physical education they require begins to drop precipitously in many school districts. Instead schools are focused solely on academics. In addition, as kids enter middle and high school, intramural sports fall by the wayside. Whereas your little kid could play soccer, basketball or baseball no matter how talented he or she was, by twelve years old, all schools care about is competition. Intramurals no longer exist so kids who want to play ‘just for the fun of it’ are out of luck. Their opportunity for organized exercise dries up almost overnight, along with an entire social experience. So let’s not point fingers at the kids. Once again, its time for the systems in place to help us out and provide options to support our kids.

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super-programmed kids disguised as getting exercise

Posted by Dr. Susan on April 9, 2008

I’m all for kids playing sports and getting other physical activity–of course I am!! But exactly as this CNN article depicts, kids are being groomed to be great athletes from the second they can walk. The problem is that the vast majority of kids do not have the innate ability to be nearly as good as their parents think they can be. This leads to the ultimate disappointment by both parent and child when said child doesn’t even make the high school team, let alone get a college scholarship (or go pro!) Most kids don’t need grooming, they need fun!

Then there’s the issue described in the article–unbelievable overprogramming in the service of making sure your child doesn’t miss out on anything and that becomes the best at it. Children are left with little or no down-time to do homework or just hang out because they are so overwhelmed by the sports they play. And I can’t only blame parents. Coaches–narcissistic about their particular sport–pay little heed to the fact that most kids, particularly in elementary school, cannot enjoy practicing four or more days a week. They burn out.

There’s no such thing as playing a sport for fun anymore when you’re a kid. The intensity is overwhelming, and parents and coaches–the adults–are creating it. Come on, give the kids a break. There’s enough pressure once you get to adulthood. It’s okay to set some limits, let a kid be rested. They don’t have to be involved in every single sport at the most intense pace. You’re the parent, say NO. Your child will be emotionally and physically healthier for it.

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