Sports and Language Communication

  • August 30, 2012
  • Bilingual Therapies

We’re All in This Together – Getting Children into Sports and Other Games

Playing sports is a great way to teach children how to work together. It can bridge gaps in communication, build team-working skills, and form friendships. It helps children work on their motor skills, get physical activity, and more. Some kids enjoy playing sports, and some don’t. If a child isn’t the soccer team or baseball type, try suggesting signing them up for chess, trying an online game together, or trying another hobby of the child’s choosing that involves working with other children. If they are an introvert, that’s quite all right. Suggest that their parent helps practice social skills in a calm setting, stressing communication and fun with their child’s select circle of friends.

Choose a Sport They Like

 We’ve all seen the child who plays a sport just because their parents used to. They want to relive the glory days, or see their children accomplish more on the field than they did. Whatever the reason, these kids are oftentimes pretty miserable in the world of sports. Eager to please, they can often agree without thinking about it. Be sure parents respect their child’s wants and needs, and ask them what sport (if any) they would like to play. Today’s teams aren’t the athletic superstar world of yesterday, and it’s likely that even if the child isn’t great at sports, they’ll still make the team. If they don’t, it’s always a way to encourage the family to open up dialogue about how to handle disappointments, and how to improve if their child wants to try out next year. Also, be sure to remind parents to check the deadlines and requirements for the team. Forms may have to be submitted, and their child might need a physical before playing. Nothing’s worse than being all ready to go in your uniform and hearing you can’t play because you forgot a piece of paper or a shot. That responsibility falls to the parent, but practitioners can also encourage kids to remind their parents of important deadlines.

Practice Makes Perfect

 Ideally, if a family has their child happily signed up and ready to play the activity of their choice, they should practice. Teams may schedule practices, or leave older children to practice on their own depending on the sport or activity. The teamwork built in practicing to improve is a great way to teach children new skills socially, mentally, and physically. Getting to practice on time and being ready to play are a good mindset to have. That being said, parents need to be mindful of when their child is feeling under the weather; forcing them to go to practice while ill can lead to further health problems and definitely to resentment of their chosen activity if their family doesn’t listen to their needs. However, if their child plays the sick card a bit too often on practice days, encourage them to ask why. Is there something about the coach they don’t like? Are they being bullied or teased? Is there a skill they aren’t the best at? Getting a child to open up about why they could be avoiding practice is another way to start them talking and working through emotional issues. It may be difficult, particularly when pragmatic language skills are one of the child’s treatment goals, but getting him or her to discuss their feelings is all part of the process.

Overall, the choice is up to the child if they want to pursue sports. Playing as a group is both fun, educational, and healthy. If the child detests the idea of baseball, soccer, football, or anything of the sort, try suggesting something non-conventional like archery, paint-balling, curling, or even fencing. A closely monitored MMO (massive multiplayer online game) or a game of chess are some ideas for those with social anxieties or other issues. The key is to ask the children, and be prepared to listen. Have fun out there!

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