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Fostering Healthy Competition in Kids

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Posted on by Zoe Barnes

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.

For a better understanding of the PowerUp Program visit: Performance Psychology For Kids

References

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/

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Basecamp @ St Monica’s Primary School – Evatt

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Posted on by Leonardo Rocker (Quirky Kid Staff)

basecamp-anxiety-program-

We are excited to welcome St Monica’s Primary School to the Quirky Kid clinic as a program facilitator of our award-winning anxiety Program, Basecamp®. St Monica’s Primary School, located in Evatt, ACT, is just one of the schools we are currently working with to provide Basecamp® to their students.

Basecamp® is an innovative anxiety program designed for children between the ages of 7 to 12. Developed by Clinical Psychologist, Dr Kathryn Berry, and the Quirky Kid team, BaseCamp® draws on decades of experience, combining a sound theoretical cognitive-behavioural approach with effective, engaging and child-centred activities. Winner of multiple International and Australian publishing awards, Basecamp® is being implemented by clinics and schools across Australia to assist children in learning how to manage anxiety.

About St Monica’s Primary School

St Monica’s Primary School is a Catholic learning community for children in grades K-6. At St Monica’s, their mission is to provide strong educational programs to enable children to reach their full potential. We were impressed by their commitment to providing innovative social-emotional learning education, making the most of technology, and looking to provide holistic support for children and their families.

How  Basecamp® will be implemented

Dr Kathryn Berry and our team of psychologists will work carefully with St Monica’s Primary School to implement the Basecamp®  program. Key to the success of the program is ensuring that all facilitators are provided with comprehensive training and guided implementation to their students. Evaluation and monitoring tools will also be used to ensure the outcomes of the program are met and to develop ongoing individual intervention students anxiety.

Interested in offering Basecamp® at your school?

St Monica’s Primary School is one of a number of schools we are currently working with to implement our Basecamp®  program. With St Monica’s and other incredible schools onboard, Basecamp® is recognised as a cost-effective, evidence-based intervention to assist children with managing their anxiety.

We continue to work incredibly hard to produce innovative programs and resources that are tried, tested and loved in classrooms, clinics and lounge rooms around the globe. Just last week Basecamp received a Highly Commended mention at the 2018 Education Publishing Awards.

Contact Us or visit the program website to find out more about the program, and how you can meet and develop the needs of your students through The Basecamp®  program.

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Vocational Partner Group and BoF

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Posted on by Leonardo Rocker (Quirky Kid Staff)

Vocational Partner Group and The Best of Friends

We are proud to announce Vocational Partnership Group (VPG) has just confirmed they will be implementing ‘The Best of Friends’™ program during 2018.

VPG empower youth, strengthen families, and broker partnerships between education & industry. VPG consists of several different programs aimed at improving child and youth transitions. With a range of different services such as work experience, professional youth services, indigenous transitions, career transitions, Every Family Program, Transition To Work (TTW) Program and RespectMe.

Their enrolment continues to establish our Social and Emotional program as the most effective intervention to foster children’s social and emotional wellbeing. We continue to work incredibly hard to produce innovative programs and resources that are tried, tested and loved in classrooms, clinics and lounge rooms around the globe.

About Vocational Partnership Group

Vocational Partnership Group has strong expertise in building the capacity of schools through innovative staffing and program solutions. The range of programs available at VPG is customised to meet schools needs and outcomes. VPG also works with parents, the industry and with youth. Their key goal is to improve child and youth transitions.

Social and Emotional Learning

Equally, with their commitment to empowering young people with a range of different training programs, VPG has demonstrated a clear commitment to the Social and Emotional Learning of their clients. We were impressed with the knowledge, focus and commitment the team share with their clients.

About The Best of Friends and the School.

The implementation of The Best of Friends ® will take place progressively and will be closely supported by the program author and our Educational Developmental Psychologists Dr. Kimberley O’Brien.

Participants will receive a copy of the exclusive workbook developed by Quirky Kid. Facilitators and teachers will have access to a series of manuals and regular supervision as and when required.

The Best of Friends ® is a Social and Emotional Learning program developed by The Quirky Kid Clinic. Find out more.

Interested in offering ‘The Best of Friends ®’ program at your school?

Currently, the program is available to a limited number of schools and organisations. The BoF program has a comprehensive implementation, evaluation and monitoring plan and we are keen to identify partners committed to SEL implementation and evaluation.

Schools can choose from a target (small group) or universal (classroom) format. We will provide all the implementation assistance required, including training, supervision and support for key staff members.

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Telerah Public School and BoF

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Posted on by Leonardo Rocker (Quirky Kid Staff)

Telerah Public School and The Best of Friends Program

We are proud to announce Telerah Public School has just confirmed they will be implementing ‘The Best of Friends’™ program during 2018. The Best of Friends program is a Social and Emotional Learning program developed by The Quirky Kid Clinic.

Telerah Public School is a progressive public school offering education for Preschool to Year 6 students, located in the Maitland suburb of Telarah. At Telarah Public School the mission is to provide children with a love of learning, a pride in their achievement and a respect for themselves and others.

Their enrolment continues to establish our Social and Emotional program as the most effective intervention to foster children’s social and emotional wellbeing. We continue to work incredibly hard to produce innovative programs and resources that are tried, tested and loved in classrooms, clinics and lounge rooms around the globe.

About Telerah Public School

Telerah Public School sits within the beautiful township of Maitland, NSW. There are approximately 510 students from Kindergarten to Year 6. There is an Aboriginal Resource Centre and an Early Intervention Child Support Unit within the school grounds which caters for children with learning difficulties at the preschool level. Telera Public School is committed to enhancing academic and extra-curricular learning for each child within a safe, and positive learning environment.

Social and Emotional Learning

Equally with their commitment to academic development and a safe and nurturing learning environment Telerah Public School has demonstrated a clear commitment to the Social and Emotional Learning of their students. We were impressed with the passion and commitment the school has for “looking beyond” the academic and extra-curricular program and applying learning to living.

About The Best of Friends Program™ and the School.

The implementation of The Best of Friends™  program will take place progressively and will be closely supported by the program author and our Educational Developmental Psychologist Dr. Kimberley O’Brien.

Participants will receive a copy of the exclusive workbook developed by Quirky Kid. Facilitators and teachers will have access to a series of manuals and regular supervision as required.

Interested in offering ‘The Best of Friends™’ program at your school?

Currently, the program is available to a limited number of schools and organisations. The BoF program has a comprehensive implementation, evaluation and monitoring plan and we are keen to identify partners committed to SEL implementation and evaluation.

Schools can choose from a target (small group) or universal (classroom) format. We will provide all the implementation assistance required, including training, supervision, and support for key staff members.

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Valli Jones & Associates and BoF

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Posted on by Leonardo Rocker (Quirky Kid Staff)

We are proud to announce Valli Jones is now a Licensed and Accredited Facilitator of ‘The Best of Friends’® program.

Valli Jones is a Gold Coast-based psychologist with a special interest in child and adolescent psychology. Working from a holistic, person-centred perspective, Valli uses evidenced-based methods to assess and treat a range of common behavioural and mental health concerns. Valli holds a Master of Clinical Psychology, is registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency, and is a member of the Australian Psychological Society.

Her clinic enrolment continues to establish our Social and Emotional program as an effective intervention to foster children’s social and emotional wellbeing. We continue to work incredibly hard to produce innovative programs and resources that are tried, tested and loved in classrooms, clinics and lounge rooms around the globe.

Dates for workshops and registrations are available here.

About Valli Jones

Valli Jones works one-on-one with children, adolescents and families to help them develop the skills they need to manage their emotions and behaviour. Using evidence-based therapies delivered in an engaging and play-informed style, children are supported while they learn to understand and regulate their inner world, and adopt more positive ways of behaving and relating.

Social and Emotional Learning

Equally, with their commitment to academic results and positive psychology, Valli Jones has demonstrated a clear commitment to the Social and Emotional Learning of her clients. We were impressed with the knowledge, focus, diligence and commitment Valli’s practice commits to their clients.
About The Best of Friends and the Clinic.

The implementation of The Best of Friends ® will take place progressively and will be closely supported by the program author and our Educational Developmental Psychologists Dr. Kimberley O’Brien.

Participants taking part in the groups will receive a copy of the exclusive workbook developed by Quirky Kid. Facilitators and teachers have access to a series of manuals and regular supervision as and when required. The Best of Friends is a Social and Emotional Learning program developed by The Quirky Kid Clinic.

Find out more.

Interested in offering The Best of Friends ® program at your school?

Currently, the program is available to a limited number of schools and organisations. The BoF program® has a comprehensive implementation, evaluation and monitoring plan and we are keen to identify partners committed to SEL implementation and evaluation.

Schools can choose from a target (small group) or universal (classroom) format. We will provide all the implementation assistance required, including training, supervision and support for key staff members.

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