As a parent, safety should always be a top priority. You want your child to be healthy, active and have fun while participating in sports. Gear up for kids' sports season with safety in mind. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends a few tips to help keep your child safe and injury-free while playing sports.
Playing sports has many benefits such as improving physical and mental health, social skills, self-esteem, and behavior. However, all sports carry some risk of injuries such as sprains, strains, growth plate irritation, and stress fractures.
To reduce the likelihood of injury, plan at least one day off per week for recovery, and at least one month off per year from training for a particular sport to allow the body to recover. Make sure your child wears appropriate protective gear and that it fits properly. This can include helmets, mouthpieces, face guards, protective cups, eyewear, and pads for the neck, shoulders, elbows, chest, knees and shins. Condition muscles during practice to strengthen them and be sure to stretch after games or practice to increase flexibility.
Take breaks during practice and games to reduce injuries and prevent heat illness. Maintain and follow safety rules specific to the sport your child is playing. If your child experiences pain, stop the activity.
Encourage your child to drink plenty of fluids before, during and after exercise or play to help avoid heat injury. Decrease or stop practices or competitions when it is very hot or humid, and wear light clothing.
“Young athletes should be judged on effort, sportsmanship and hard work,” Brooks said. “They should be rewarded for trying hard and for improving their skills rather than punished or criticized for losing a game or competition. The main goal should be to have fun and learn lifelong physical activity skills.”
Parents can play a big role in influencing their children to play sports that are appropriate for their age, development, and physical abilities. Pediatricians encourage young people with disabilities to participate in sports, recreation and physical activities whenever possible.
Sports are a great way for kids to stay fit, feel good about themselves, and improve their overall well-being. However, parents must prioritize safety and take necessary precautions to reduce the likelihood of injuries. Encourage your child to have fun, learn new skills, and be a good sport.