As parents, we want nothing but the best for our children. We encourage them to play sports as part of their healthy childhood development. We push them to excel in school and academics. As a parent, you want nothing more than to see your child succeed and whatever he or she is doing and to have fun while doing it. It’s always devastating as a parent to watch your child get hurt, especially if they get hurt doing a sport they love. Unfortunately, many parents think that there’s not much they can do to prevent a child injury during sports.
Furthermore, many parents are not encouraging their children to play sports because of the fear of watching them get hurt. However, youth sports are an essential part of childhood development that shouldn’t be skipped because of fear of injury. There are many benefits to children playing sports that outweigh the risk of injury, especially if there are ways to lower that risk.
Parents have an important and essential role in preventing a child injury. If you think you have no role in injury prevention as a parent, you couldn’t be more wrong. Here are some good steps you can take as a parent to start injury prevention at home with your child.
1. Encourage Sport Variety
New research indicates that there is an increase in injury when it comes to sports specialization. You may think that encouraging your child to participate in many sports may lead to more injury and over-exertion. However, researchers are finding more and more that those children who play more than one sport are at a lower risk of injury. Furthermore, researchers also found that sports specialization increases burnout and decreases enjoyment.
Of course, this doesn’t mean signing your child up for every sport. Most sports are seasonal, however, which means that your child most likely won’t be playing multiple sports at the same time. Not only is this beneficial for encouraging physical activity all year round without specialization, but it also encourages well-rounded training and cross-training. Your young athlete will gain the physical benefits from other sports as well as decrease their risk for injury.
Aside from encouraging your child to play different sports, it’s also good to encourage them to play pick-up games in a variety of sports. If your child does basketball, encourage a pick-up game of soccer with his or her friends. During the summer, encourage swimming. You may not need them to sign up for formal sports, but a variety of physical activity on a regular basis will keep them from getting injured.
2. Ensure A Healthy Diet And Sleeping Schedule
Once children hit high school, it seems more difficult to enforce good eating and sleeping habits. However, a healthy diet and enough sleep are two essential elements to not only injury prevention but also a healthy child. The proper nutrition for an athlete keeps their energy levels high as well as encourages normal muscle growth. Skipping meals or not eating nutritiously is linked to lower energy levels as well as weakness and improper growth. Lower energy levels and weakness are two major culprits of both overuse injuries and acute injuries.
Furthermore, getting enough sleep ensures the proper recovery time for both the brain and the body. This gives muscles the necessary time to recuperate and recover. It also allows you to stay alert, which can help prevent acute injuries from occurring. As with sleeping, it’s also important to encourage proper recovery time and to watch your child for overtraining or over-exertion. The question is often asked, “How much should I monitor my athlete?” The answer is as much as necessary.
3. Keep It Fun (And Stress-Free)
Because parents want the best for their children and want nothing more for them to be happy and succeed, they sometimes push a little too hard. It’s important, especially as their parent, to encourage enjoyment above all else when it comes to sports and physical activity. Competition is an important part of childhood development. However, learning to lose is just as important as learning to win. Not only does encouraging fun and enjoyment decrease the risk of injury, but it also keeps self-esteem levels high. Furthermore, it stresses the importance of emotional and mental health over sports.
4. Communicate With Coaches And Staff
It’s an often-missed step for parents, particularly when their child athletes becomes a high school athlete. However, it’s important to maintain communication with your child’s coach and any staff, such as athletic trainers and physical therapists. Coaches and staff will keep you informed on the health of your athlete. Having a good relationship with them means that you’re able to take part in monitoring your athlete at home and on the field. Many parents may think that constant communication is being too pushy or too involved. However, when it comes to the health of your child, you can never be too involved. Furthermore, it’s an opportunity for education on injury prevention and overall sports health.
Preventing Child Injury
Yes, it’s impossible to prevent an injury 100% of the time as accidents happen. However, there are many things you can do and should do as a parent to lower your child’s risk of a sports-related injury. When it comes to your child athlete’s health, don’t take a hands-off approach. Learn all you can, talk to the coaches and staff, and encourage good habits at home and you’ll be able to help your athlete stay injury-free.