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Refining and perfecting motor skills, developing visual precision, and improving mental sharpness are just a few of the many achievements happening in the young, growing body that contribute significantly to your youngster’s enjoyable and successful reality sports experience. Think about shaking up a soft drink can and not opening the top—there is so much rapid change just waiting to happen in these kids. Sometimes they can sense that they are close to gaining a new skill and they just about burst trying. Suddenly it happens, and they cheer not only with excitement, but relief. Hopefully you can see that each stage of development varies in the length of time it takes to gain accomplishment with a certain skill and also in the completeness of skills actually developed. Some youth will acquire a skill fairly quickly, while others take longer. Some youth will develop a certain skill very well, while others struggle. That’s why certain kids gravitate toward certain activities—the beauty of the variability of human beings.

Think back to your childhood for a moment. Did you excel at catching and hitting baseballs, or were you hand-eye challenged and avoided that type of activity altogether? Did you throw well, or did you hate dodgeball in PE class when you had to display your lack of ability in front of the whole class? Ah, now you remember. You may see that mirror image in your child, or you may be wondering how on earth he inherited abilities you do not have.

Even with this variability among children of skills for exercise and sports, it is important to allow each child to individually maximize each skill level in his own time before moving on to the next. Each child is unique and should not be pushed faster than the time required to refine a skill needed to acquire a future skill.  Remember not to become impatient and rob your young one of the chance to gain a particular skill that he has been working on so diligently. Sure, your child can occasionally be trying more advanced parts of a sport, but he should not be rushed to get there before the current skills are mastered.When we were kids in school, next year’s classes were usually built on knowledge from the previous year. Taking calculus before algebra and geometry would not have made as much sense (although for a non–math wizard like me, I am not sure if calculus would have made sense at any time). It is the same with acquiring the different advancing levels of sports techniques, movements, strategies, and training. One step at a time. One throw at a time. One serve at a time. One jump at a time. One kick at a time.
 
Motor, visual, and mental skills, along with physical growth, only make up part of the overall picture. They are each contributing parts that all fit together. Have you ever searched for that missing piece that allows you to start to assemble the next large chunk of a complicated puzzle? Advancing maturation of the body and brain allow your child to benefit from advancing physical growth. Sure, these physical changes of growth are obvious. No one is blind to the fact that when friends get your holiday picture this year, Johnny is 6 inches taller than last year’s picture (which is still on their refrigerator). They usually double-check to make sure you did not skip a year. Girls change shape and start looking at boys; boys start to shave, get more muscles, and look at girls. These physical changes certainly have an effect on their abilities to perform against their opponents as they become stronger, faster, and more skilled. Just growing, however, is not the only answer in the game of sports Jeopardy. Another crucial factor that goes through a process of development is the more invisible chemical realm—physiology, in fancy medical terms.

 

Author
Paul R. Stricker, MD, FAAP
Last Updated
5/11/2013
Source
Sports Success Rx! Your Child’s Prescription for the Best Experience (Copyright © 2006 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.