When it comes to kid sports, I have to say that I am completely torn on this one.  And before the die hard baseball moms get offended, I want to say that I 100% believe that sports are good for kids. But, I think we can all agree that this era of ultra competitive, traveling sports is nothing like the sports experience that we had as kids.

Kids Sports: The Pros (Not the Major Leagues)

I’m talking about the benefits that kids get from playing sports.  There are a bunch of them and The Aspen Play Project does a great job of explaining all of the benefits which include:

  • Obvious health benefits (lower blood pressure, lower risk of diabetes, general health)]
  • Promote active lifestyle as an adult
  • Helps with cognitive skills and brain development
  • Increases likelihood that your child will attend college
  • Social skills and friendships
  • Reduces risk of drug use, pregnancy and depression
  • Assists with goal setting and feeling of accomplishment

 

Yep, those are are excellent reasons to celebrate sports. I personally think the benefits outweigh the risks.

But, I am concerned about the risks;

Kids Sports: The Cons (They do exist)

Okay, so it’s going to be expensive.  I get that.  It’s not fair, really because some families just truly can not afford to  have their children participate in sports because of the cost involved.

But, my biggest concern about kids sports right now is the schedule.

From 5 day a week practice to 3 games a day weekends to every weekend traveling tournaments, I am very concerned that the schedule of kids athletics has gotten a little too crazy.  And, I’m not the only one.  This article from the New York Post highlights the dangers of overtraining, overplaying and overspecializing in sports

But the largest cause is young athletes specializing in one sport at an earlier age. Instead of playing lacrosse, basketball and football, they are opting to stick with just one, and it’s taking a toll on their bodies.”

This increased risk for serious injuries in middle school that were previously not seen until college or beyond is a huge concern.  Couple that with this article from Changing the Game that cites research that 70% of kids are quitting sports all together by age 13!   Before high school, kids are tired of playing sports!

Kids Sports: What Kids Want Parents To Know

It all starts out fun! Kids just love playing.  Parents can’t stop them from practicing. I’ve met the kids who sleep, eat and breathe baseball.  To take that away from them would be devastating.  But, I’ve also met the kids who are having anxiety attacks about their performance and the ones who are coming to therapy stressed about maintaining a good GPA and keeping up with practices and games.

Kids share what they wish parents understood about sports in this video:

 

Final Thoughts:

It’s time for us parents to find the balance.   Experts recommend that your children play a variety of sports, that you limit the time that that they practice and make sure that they have some time to enjoy other activities. If you are looking for alternative playtime activities, be sure to check out this great guide from momlovesbest.com .

Let’s work together to make sure that these athletes continue to play sports throughout HIGH SCHOOL and that they are healthy enough to do it throughout their life.

Why a white daisy?

Apparently, when people  are asked to draw a flower, the first one that comes to mind for a majority of people is the daisy shape.   This single flower (just the flower part without the stem or any leaves and on a solid black background) was show to study participants after being shown a high-arousal negative image. Examples of high-arousal negative images include awful things like violence, injuries and car crashes.  Two trials were conducted:  in the first subjects were shown a high arousal image and then either a) the flower image b) a mosaic of fragments of the flower image or c) a visual fixation point.  In the second trial, the high arousal image was followed by either a) the flower image, b) a chair (deemed a neutral image) or c) a blue sky with clouds (deemed a positive non-floral image).   Systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings were taken throughout the experiments.  

As expected, mean blood pressure was lower when participants viewed the flower versus the fixation point or the mosaic flower,  but what was unexpected is that the flower image actually reduced mean blood pressure to a level lower than the baseline.  Both the flower image and the blue sky had a similar positive impact in changing mood from negative to positive (with the blue sky having the most overall impact).  However, only the flower (not the sky) caused a reduction in mean blood pressure.  It was determined that viewing a simple flower image could in fact change a negative mood into a more positive one and also decrease blood pressure. 

The power of the single flower image was then studied in regards to salivary cortisol levels.  During this study, the high-arousal images were once again paired with the flower image, the flower fragment mosaic or the fixation point.  Once again, only the flower image was shown to significantly decrease stress during the recovery phase. One final examination looked at fMRI images of the brain during these conditions.  Through this imagery it was discovered that the flower image was effective in decreasing the amygdala-hippocampus activation that occurred after viewing the high arousal images. Researchers speculated that the flower image was a distraction tool that was helped prevent the recall of the stressful images.  

The brief viewing of this single flower image was shown to be effective at reducing negative emotions and created better functioning of both the cardiovascular and endocrine systems! Having such a simple tool available to help reduce stress and regulate unpleasant emotions and is one possible tool for interrupting ruminating thoughts or unpleasant flashbacks.  

About the Author Jen Taylor

Jennifer Taylor, LCSW, RPT is an experienced child and family therapist and public speaker who specializes in trauma, ADHD, and conduct problems. Discover more about her diverse clinical background and family. Reach out to Jennifer with questions or comments by emailing at info@jentaylorplaytherapy.com

Jennifer Taylor, LCSW, RPT is an experienced child and family therapist and public speaker who specializes in trauma, ADHD, and conduct problems. Discover more about her diverse clinical background and family. Reach out to Jennifer with questions or comments by emailing at info@jentaylorplaytherapy.com

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