After-School Activities

Top Reasons For Summer Sports Involvement

Elite sports begin young, and select those few who will be the superstars of the next generation early on. Whether you desire this intense experience for your child, or simply want them to be active, have fun and learn a new skill – summer is a great time to get it done.

Competitive sports can be, well, competitive – even during elementary school. While everyone should try to be a good sport on game days, coveted positions on teams can cause jealously and fierceness to flare up. And then outside of the parents, the kids will feel the pressure too!

In today’s world of young athletes, it can be difficult for school-aged children to try out for a team when they have zero experience in the sport. A summer camp or intensive can help resolve this issue, providing the child with one of two things:

–        For the beginner: a basic, non-competitive environment in which to learn

–        For the seasoned athlete: a chance to enrich skills during freed up hours during summer

No matter which goal your family has in mind, taking advantage of longer days and less commitments over the summer is vital to improving one’s game.

Finding a True Love

Perhaps your child is young or new to sports and aren’t sure which one to plug into. Since every recreational activity that involves being part of a team tends to be both expensive and time-consuming, summer is the best time of year to “try things out” and see what really excites your child. You may have always envisioned her as a soccer star, but then discover that she is a tennis pro. Summer vacation is a wonderful time to just explore and play. Many summer intensives for sports (including dance and gymnastics) invite those new to the arena a chance to sample a handful of different things. An intensive sports camp may include a week of softball, football, tennis, volleyball and soccer – or any other combination of sports. Basic rules are taught, mock games are played, and information about what to do next if you’ve caught the bug for one in particular are usually included. For dance, a smattering of different dance disciplines are taught, and may include ballet, tap, jazz, modern, lyrical, contemporary or hip hop. Gymnastics intensives for new athletes may choose to focus on all events within competitive gymnastics, or instead just work on strength-building, basic tricks and safety protocol.

Encouraging an Elitist

If your child is going to become a sports elitist, taking the summer off is not an option. Elite sports demands a generous amount of commitment from both the athlete and his/her family, and summer is a time spent ramping up training, endurance levels and honing new skills. If the competition season prior ended up being a bit rough in some regard, then those skills which caused the fumbles will often be worked on intensively.

Summer is time for the elitist to spend the hours he/she would normally be in school working with a private coach or taking extra classes. The goal of an advanced athlete is to use summer camps and intensives toward improving significantly in their sport of choice, or at least maintaining the level they are at.  These months are often the only time of year where you can get an “edge” on your fiercest competition, as there are fewer distractions in life.

Finding Your Heart

Parents tend to have big dreams for their youngsters, and kids really do need us to dream big for them. However, every parent must be careful they aren’t dreaming beyond what a child is capable of, or not forcing their own slighted ambitions onto a little one. Explain the importance of summer intensives to your child, but if they don’t want to be an elitist in their sport, or just really need a summer off to avoid burnout, it’s important to honor that whenever possible.

Whatever your activity decision-making may be, the heart of it should always be your child’s dreams and passions. Take a good hard look in your family mirror – is the sacrifice something that is worth it? Does your child’s elite sport make his/her life enhanced? Is this something that is child-driven rather than parent or coach-driven? If so, take advantage of one of the great intensive camps available in your region. You can find out about them through your child’s regular trainer or coach, or simply look online. Discounts and scholarships are often available to ambitious young athletes hoping for high-quality summer enrichment without an overwhelming price tag.

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20 Do’s and Don’ts When Your Child Is Bullied

DO tell your child it’s not their fault. When someone is put down repeatedly they are likely to begin thinking something is really wrong with them. A bully often chooses a target at random and sticks to victims that react in the way that they desire. Assure your child know that it is not their fault they are being bullied.

DON’T take the situation lightly. Although making light of certain situations and joking around can ease stress, a child may see this reaction as not being taken seriously. There is nothing funny about your child being hurt.

DO communicate the issue with the school. Let the school know of the problem and see what their policy and consequences are for bullying.

DON’T blame the school or educators for not addressing the issue sooner. Keep in mind that educators and school staff deal with many children on a daily basis and are not always aware of what happens at all times.

DO encourage your child to write down bullying instances and how they made them feel. It’s important to know how the words or actions of a bully are affecting your child. Are they simply being teased or are they experiencing serious psychological damage? Constant bullying can lead to problems later in life such as eating disorders and drug problems.

DON’T encourage your child to fight back. Although confidence and standing up for oneself is an important lesson to learn, it may not always be the best choice in every situation. Your child can get seriously hurt or make themselves more of a target for bullying.

DO encourage your child to build a support system. Every kid wants to feel like they belong and bullies make kids feel rejected from their peers. If you child has trouble making friends, try enrolling them in extracurricular activities such as a youth group or sports team. Having good friends will help them build confidence and learn that healthy relationships are about being treated equal and with respect.

DON’T ignore the problem or encourage your child to ignore it. It’s a common misconception that if you stop reacting to the actions of a bully they’ll lose interest and move on to the next target. It may deter it for a short time, but the problem is not solved. Address the issue head on and come to a conclusion.

DO empower your child. Let your child know that with your help, they will put an end to this problem. Let them know that it takes a strong person to ask for help.

DON’T try to handle the problem yourself. Your instinct as a parent is to protect your child, but having mommy or daddy run to solve a problem can make matters worse for both of you.

DO stay calm and offer your support. Kids might be afraid to tell their parents about bullying because they are ashamed and think their parents will be disappointed. No matter how angry you are, try to stay calm and comfort your child.

DON’T criticize your child. Maybe they didn’t handle the situation the same way you would have liked them to, but remember that everyone reacts differently under pressure. Children are learning all the time and having the support of their parents is extremely important.

DO remove incentives from the bully. If your child is getting his lunch money or any sort of material object stolen, simply remove them from the situation and it may help the situation. Pack a lunch for your child and leave all valuables at home.

DON’T get the bully’s parents involved. This is often a parent’s first reaction, but it will likely make matters worse. Let the school handle the bully and the parents.

DO expect the bullying to stop. Check in with your child and the school to make sure that the appropriate measures are being taken to stop the bullying.

DON’T force your child to talk about things they don’t want to. Kids might be embarrassed of how bullies treat them and don’t want to open up to their parents about it. If you think your child has been hurt or bullied and refuses to speak to you about it, consult a school counselor or teacher and see if they can talk with your child.

DO practice role-play and safety strategies with your child for when they feel threatened. Ask them which adults they will report to when the bully approaches them.

DON’T encourage your child to get the bully “in trouble”. There is a difference between seeking help and tattling. There are many reasons that children become bullies. They may come from an abusive home or have psychological issues. A victimized child asks for help in hopes that the bully will stop bullying altogether, not just stop targeting them.

DO follow-up with your child. Ask them questions about school every day, not necessarily about the bully but about how they enjoyed their day. If they respond with things like “I hate school” or “I have no friends,” you’ll know that the issue has not been resolved.

DON’T get angry if the issue is not resolved immediately. Sometimes these things take time to fix. As long as your child is not hurt, the most important thing is to be there to support and comfort them. Maintain communication with the school to stay updated on the progress of the situation. The most important thing is to stay calm.

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