Makenzie’s Motor Minute: Articles
Building Blocks for Life: How to Build Confidence in Your Child in an Ever-Changing World
For years, health professionals and parents have established and reiterated a narrative that participation in team sports improves psychosocial functioning, social support, self-worth, and quality of life. It has also been shown to enhance cognitive performance in a school environment. This is achieved not just with physical activity, but also through social interactions when your child collaborates with other children who share similar interests.
Participation in adaptive sports similarly improves emotional regulation and self-esteem through peer interaction and learning social skills, and also supports positive body imagery and physical health. Engaging your child in programs, on or off the field, where they can develop friendships and social skills benefits the entire family.
As adults, we naturally build relationships with friends and families who share our interests and values. They are our “safe place”, allowing and encouraging us to be comfortable and confident in ourselves. As parents, we must give our children opportunities to grow these healthy relationships with their peers. Even at a very young age, relationship building is crucial to developing self-confidence and emotional resilience. Determining what interests your child, and adapting that activity to your child can build the framework for a healthy, happy, and self-confident person. Trying to adapt a child to an exercise often leads to frustration and anxiety, but what if we adapted the exercise to our child instead?
Children do not currently have all of the social opportunities we had when we were young. Being limited to virtual meetings and events create challenges for children to feel engaged. By engaging the members of your household, I believe that we can give our children many of the benefits of team sports and social activities from the safety of our own homes.
- Board games allow children to learn turn-taking, fine motor, and visual perceptual skills.
- Creating a backyard obstacle course with simple items from around the house (towels, sidewalk chalk, empty plastic bottles, and jump ropes) encourages children to take turns, while building social and motor skills.
- Working together to see how quickly you can match all of the socks while doing laundry builds teamwork, visual perceptual skills and helps get chores done.
- Perhaps most important, if your child hears you cheering them on, it will only improve their confidence to hear how proud you are of their hard work.
Programs such as Beat NF, Club NF, and Teen NF can similarly provide your child with experiences to foster self-confidence and create a sense of community. Having that community network around you and your child can help even in the most challenging times. Even though these programs remain virtual for the immediate future, we believe that they provide your family with tools to bring confidence-building activities into your home. Our goal is to work with you and your child to find out what they need to grow into confident, healthy, and happy kids.
– Makenzie Sledd
Sahlin KB, Lexell J. Impact of Organized Sports on Activity, Participation and Quality of Life in People with Neurological Disabilities. PM R. 2015; 7(10): 1081-1088.
Logan, K. Cuff, S. and Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness. Organized SPorts for Children, Preadolescents, and Adolescents. Pediatrics Jun 2019, 143, (6) e20190997; DOI: 10. 1542/peds.2019-0997