Competitive individual and team sports are a ubiquitous part of childhood. The benefits are well understood, but sports participation can also present challenges for both kids and parents alike. Preparing your children with strategies for good mental game-play will help them navigate some of the emotional and social obstacles that may arise.
What Competitive Sports Can Teach Your Child To Foster Healthy Competition in Kids
There are many reasons to encourage your child’s participation in competitive sports. Other than the positive impact physical fitness can have on your child’s health, research highlights that additional key benefits from healthy competition in kids can include (Eime, Young, Harvey, Charity, & Payne, 2013; Hansen, Larson, & Dworkin, 2003):
Teaching children important team-building, problem solving and social participation skills.
Improved cognitive function and motor coordination.
Helping your child learn that healthy competition is a natural part of life and that effort can lead to success.
Improved general motivation and engagement in other activities.
Boosting self-esteem – there are many valuable lessons in both winning and losing.
Mood stabilisation – participation may help protect your child from experiencing low mood and depression.
Decreasing risky behaviour – sport provides a structured and supportive environment, as well as an outlet for expression.
Risks in Overdoing It
Undoubtedly, you want your child to succeed in life, and sport is no exception – but in your eagerness are you perhaps pushing your child too hard?
While engagement in competitive sport has its merits as outlined above, when young athletes overwhelmingly commit to a single sport year-round with next-to-no downtime, there can be considerable risks. Research suggests that putting too much pressure on a child and emphasising outcome-goals (winning) instead of process-goals (participation and personal bests) can have negative consequences. This can lead to (Brenner, 2007):
Burnout – Negative mental, physical and hormonal changes, can make children feel tired and disinterested. This can actually lead them to them perform worse in competition.
Overuse injuries – If a child is unable to adequately rest and recover due to the pressure of competition, they can injure a bone, tendon or muscle.
Loss of interest – Negative experiences early on can reduce the likelihood that your child will engage in future physical activity. Watch for phrases like “It’s not fun anymore!” and “I don’t care.”
How to Foster a Love of Healthy Competition in Kids
Whether you are a supportive parent or a sports coach, the following approaches can be used to help foster healthy competition in kids and give your little one a greater sense of well-being when engaging in sports.
Strategy #1: Modify Expectations
Expectations are normal in the realm of competitive sports (and of course you want your child to succeed), but rather than framing your expectations in terms of winning and losing, it is often more beneficial to frame sport participation as a form of leisure time or social engagement for your child. For example, use dialogue such as,
“You looked like you had a lot of fun playing soccer with the team today!”
Highlight personal bests and growth, rather than focusing on winning. For example,
“This week you swam to the flags. That’s longer than last time – great work!”
Emphasise the importance of your child following through with a commitment once it has been started. Statements such as,
“I am proud of you for playing your best all season!” are really encouraging.
Strategy #2: Visualise the Event
If your child gets nervous leading up to a game, mental exercises like visualisation can be really helpful. For example, if your child is running a race, have them imagine each stage – Walking up to your lane, bending down, taking deep breaths, pushing off the ground and quickly taking the lead, making sure to remember to breathe as you continue to charge through the race.
Tasks like these will help your child prepare for every aspect of the race or game ahead of time (Quirky Kid, 2018).
Strategy #3: Teach Your Child To Self-Check
One way to promote healthy competition in kids is to teaching your child to self-check is a two-part process.
First, check in on physical nerves. Having your child check in on their immediate physical state can help them identify and manage the physical symptoms of anxiety.
The second part of a self-check involves your child reflecting on their thoughts. Is there any self-doubt arising as the event/game gets closer? If yes, encourage your child to try replacing these unhelpful thoughts with more helpful thoughts.
Strategy #4: The Pep Talk
‘Pep talks’ are ubiquitous in competitive sport. Whether led by a captain or coach, these talks are often the last step before the event starts, meaning these words leave a lasting impression. You want to inspire the children and motivate them so they are ready to compete. Be careful, however – there is a fine line between pumping children up and placing unneeded pressure on them.
Recent research suggests that the best pep talks are those that follow a competence support approach (Fransen, Boen, Vansteenkiste, Mertens, & Vande Broek, 2017). Put simply, a pep talk should encourage your child to focus on improving their performance and reflecting on positive times already encountered in previous games, rather than thinking only of winning. Framing a pep talk in this way improves children’s sense of team unity and increases their intrinsic motivation (i.e. self-motivation) to compete – so be sure next time to give this approach a go.
If you notice your child experiencing negative emotions, which are persistent and detrimentally affecting your child’s ability not only to engage in competitive sport, but to effectively function in other areas of life, it may be indicative of a more serious, or potentially more pervasive issue. Here at Quirky Kid, we implement an award-winning program, Power Up!®, designed to enhance mental resilience and performance in young athletes. Should you have any concerns about your child, or are interested in helping them maximise their sporting potential in a healthy way, please don’t hesitate to contact our friendly reception on (02) 9362 9297.
Brenner, J. S., & Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness (2007). Overuse injuries, overtraining and burnout in child and adolescent athletes. Paediatrics, 1199(6), doi: 10.1542/peds.2007-0887
Eime, R. M., Young, J. A., Harvey, J. T., Charity, M. J., & Payne, W. R. (2013). A systematic review of the psychological and social benefits of participation in sport for children and adolescents: informing the development of a conceptual model of health through sport. International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity, 10(98). doi: 10.1186/1479-5868-10-98
Fransen, K., Boen, F., Vansteenkiste, M., Mertens, N., & Vande Broek, G. (2017). The power of competence support: The impact of coaches and athlete leaders on intrinsic motivation and performance. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, 28(2). doi: 10.1111/sms.12950
Hansen, D. M., Larson, R. W., & Dworkin, J. B. (2003). What adolescents learn in organised youth activities: A survey of self-reported developmental experiences. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 13(1), 25-55. Doi: 10.1111/1532-7795.1301006
Quirky Kid (2018). Power Up! Retrieved from https://childpsychologist.com.au/service/workshops-info/power-up/
The holidays are nearly upon us and that’s great fun!
We offer group workshops designed to help children make and manage friendships, communicate better, overcome anxiety and perform at their best.
Our workshops have been creatively developed by Dr. Kimberley O’Brien and the Quirky Kid team over 16 years in the Child and Family field. We strive for innovation (winning local and international awards in Innovation) to make sure our programs are inspiring, practical and effective for small groups in the clinic setting or demonstrative for large audiences in an auditorium. Quirky Kid workshops draw on our micro-skills in working with children combined with current research and practices in Australia, the USA and UK.
The Best of Friends
The Best of Friends® program gives children the knowledge, skills and confidence to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, show empathy for others, develop and maintain friendships and make good decisions.
The Why Worry workshop helps anxious children aged 5 to 13 years to manage their own symptoms of stress and worry at home & school. Participants learn to identify personal triggers for anxiety and practice coping strategies to reduce any impact on the individual or family. By exploring solutions through play-based activities, participants learn to understand and appreciate anxiety in a fun, non-threatening setting.
Register for Why Worry? workshop this school holidays!
This program is designed for children and young people aged 10 to 15 years who are (or want to be) involved in sports, music, performance or academics in a competitive way. Power Up! gives children the power to build self-confidence; cope with the pressures of competition; overcome self-doubt and negative self-talk; set goals and make plans to achieve them; maximise performance in any chosen field.
Find a Power Up! workshop near you this school holidays!
How to Register
Sessions for all of these workshops are available in our Sydney and Wollongong clinics. Places are limited so get in quick!
Stay in the loop! Join our mailing list to be notified of the dates of the upcoming workshops.
We are over the moon with excitement as we have just received confirmation that Quirky Kid has been shortlisted for two ( yes 2) London Book Fair International Excellence Awards 2016. Four Australian titles were shortlisted this year with China leading the shortlists with five nominations and the USA and Australia not far behind with four each.
The Best of Friends™ program was shortlisted The Education Initiatives Award, together with Book Aid International (UK) for their work in Sub-Saharan Africa and United Nations – African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) (Sudan).
The Power Up program was shortlisted Educational Learning Resources Award together with Kweetet (Belgium), Cambridge University Press (Australia), SuperMemo World sp. z o.o. (Poland) The awards, which are held in partnership with the UK Publishers Association (PA), celebrate success in 14 categories, representing the best publishing ambassadors, cutting edge publishing, and ground breaking initiatives in the industry.
The awards, which are held in partnership with the UK Publishers Association (PA), celebrate success in 14 categories, representing the best publishing ambassadors, cutting edge publishing, and ground breaking initiatives in the industry.
Jacks Thomas, Director, The London Book Fair, said: “Now in their third year, the LBF International Excellence Awards are a one-stop showcase for some fantastic innovation and sheer determination to get books and content into the hands of consumers in a variety of classical and creative ways. Just looking at the shortlists makes me want to shout a big three cheers for the global publishing industry and all who work in it!”
Stephen Lotinga, Chief Executive, The UK Publishers Association, said: “These awards are going from strength to strength and demonstrates that excellence in publishing has no geographic boundary. This shortlist shows how, from the USA to China, Argentina to Turkey via France, New Zealand, Poland and of course the UK, there are no shortages of exciting developments in the book and publishing industry.”
The winners of a number of other Awards will also be presented on the night including: The Quantum Publishing Innovation Award, The Association for Publishing Education (APE) Student Awards, The IPA Freedom to Publish Prize, The LBF Trailblazer Awards and The London Book Fair Simon Master Chairman’s Award.
The London Book Fair Lifetime Achievement Award will also be presented.
The awards, which celebrate international excellence in the book industry, cover the whole scope of international publishing, including academic and scholarly publishing, children’s publishing, literary translation and digital innovation. In each award category the judging panel was made up of experts in that sector.
The LBF International Book Industry Excellence Awards will be an invite-only evening event, and will take place on Tuesday 12 April, the first day of The LBF 2016. The Awards Ceremony will be held at 6.00pm in The Conference Centre, Olympia, London. Dr. Kimberley O’Brien, principal child psychologist and Leonardo Rocker M.A will be representing Quirky Kid during the award night.
Fair Dates: Tuesday 12 – Thursday 14 April 2016
THE LONDON BOOK FAIR
About The London Book Fair (LBF)
The London Book Fair (LBF) is the global marketplace for rights negotiation and the sale and distribution of content across print, audio, TV, film and digital channels. Taking place every spring in the world’s premier publishing and cultural capital, it is a unique opportunity to explore, understand and capitalise on the innovations shaping the publishing world of the future. LBF brings you direct access to customers, content and emerging markets. LBF 2016, the 45th Fair, will take place from Tuesday 12-Thursday 14 April 2016, Olympia London. LBF’s London Book and Screen Week will run for the third year, with the book fair as the pivotal three-day event within a seven-day programme. London Book and Screen Week will begin on Monday 11 April. In 2016, LBF’s charity of the year is First Story.
The Publishers Association is the leading trade organisation serving book, journal, audio and electronic publishers in the UK. Membership comprises over 100 companies from across the consumer, academic and education sectors. Its core service is representation and lobbying, around copyright, rights and other matters relevant to members, who represent roughly 80% of the industry by turnover. www.publishers.org.uk.
We are proud to announced the Power Up! has been shortlisted for the 2014 Educational Publishing Awards under Primary: Student Resource – Arts/Science/Humanities. We are against Pearson Australia and Pascal Press, two of the largest publishers in Australia. This is a major achievement and a fantastic reward for our work and dedication over the past months.
Power Up is Quirky Kid’s performance psychology program for young people aged 10 to 16 years.
Organised by trade body the Australian Publishers Association, the EPAAs celebrate excellence in educational publishing in Australia. Now reaching its 21st year, the event is an opportunity to showcase the innovation, quality and dedication publishers devote to their pedagogical products.
Awards will be presented in the primary school, secondary school, TAFE & vocational and tertiary education categories as well as to the APA Primary and Secondary School Publisher of the Year. The event night is scheduled for
We are extremely proud to announce our first online program:Power Up!Using performance psychology to perform/compete at your best. Below is sneak peak of the project.
This unique program, now available as an online program, is designed for children and young people aged 10 to 16 years who are or want to be involved in sports, music, performance or academics in a competitive way. By purchasing a workbook, participants will gain access to an information packed website with Animated tutorials designed to assist participants in completing the program independently or with the help of coaches or parents.
The program offers participants with the opportunity to develop a unique set of psychological skills to improve their performances and manage the demands of competition.
The Power Up! covers six core areas of psychological skills training. Each skill contributes to a performer’s ability to effectively manage the sustained effort required in training and practice, as well as the pressure environment of competition or performance. The program aims to ensure participants gain an understanding of the following core areas:
Focus and Attention Control
The Power Up! program, inclusive of an illustrated workbook, website access, video animated instructions and option for individual help is available via the program’s website: http://powerup.quirkykid.com.au for only $39.95.
Offering Power Up! privately.
To register and start offering Power Up! privately, simply head to the Power Up Website and complete the registration process. Coaches, sports professionals, teacher and psychologist can offerPower Up! while generating revenue from workshops.