We’ve all heard about the benefits of blowing off steam, but what does this mean in practice? And how, specifically, does the concept apply to children?
Placing too much pressure on kids carries several risks, among them self-esteem problems, higher rates of mental illness, increased likelihood of cheating, and, in the sporting context, higher chance of injuries. Additionally, “70 percent of young athletes leave organized sports by the time they hit middle school simply because they are no longer having fun,” according to research from George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health.
Basement Sports embraces a “No Pressure” mindset as one of our Seven Core Principles. The key to cultivating such an atmosphere for kids is to “focus on the process, rather than the end result,” according to Amy Morin, Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Other sources echo this sentiment: “When we praise children for the effort and hard work that leads to achievement, they want to keep engaging in that process. They are not diverted from the task of learning by a concern with how smart they might — or might not — look.”
Just as important is the facilitation of a playful environment. Via Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents: “ . . . Over the last two decades, children have lost eight hours per week of free, unstructured, and spontaneous play . . . Researchers believe that this dramatic drop in unstructured playtime is in part responsible for slowing kids’ cognitive and emotional development . . . Unstructured play helps children learn how to work in groups, to share, negotiate, resolve conflicts, regulate their emotions and behavior, and speak up for themselves.”
Last but not least, never underestimate the power of leading by example. From MaxLiving: “Kids model your own behavior. If they see you handle stress in a detrimental manner, they’re less likely to cope with their own stress.”
Whether you’re a parent, an older sibling, a mentor, or a coach, we encourage you to be the role model kids need to become confident, stress-tolerant adults. If you can have some fun in the process, so much the better!