In today’s fast-paced, consumer-based society, parents are always looking for the easiest ways for their children to excel. A path most commonly taken is sports, as parents anticipate their children receiving a scholarship or going to the Olympics. However, the amount of pressure being put on children causes more problems in the long run and can set them up for failure.
Parents are taking the fun out of extracurricular activities for their children. Enforcing strict requirements children who can’t see two days ahead of themselves, let alone 10 years ahead, reinforces the belief that they are not good enough. They won’t begin to suddenly work harder because they feel this way, they’ll instead turn to feeling poorly about themselves in other regards, as well.
Parents may think this negative ideology will motivate their children more, but it is only destroying their self-esteems. According to assistant professor of Clinical Psychology at Argosy University Dr. Mirjam Quinn, “Providing external rewards and focusing on performance rather than the process of learning saps children of all enjoyment of the activity...Many kids become dependent on the external rewards and their self-esteem crumbles when they do not win.”
The determining factor in a child’s attitude toward sports is almost always the parents. If the child is having fun and feels supported by his or her parents, the child will enjoy his or herself more and still feel important and successful in life.
Many parents try the sports route anticipating their child will one day get a scholarship to the school of their choice. Each year, only about 2 percent of high school athletes find themselves receiving a sports scholarship, most of which aren’t even full ride. Rather than pushing children to their physical limits for the sake of saving money, parents should encourage their children to excel in whatever activity they’re best at.
Forcing a child to dedicate his or herself to one sport limits how well-rounded they can be. Children should not be forced to focus on one thing. They should be allowed and encouraged to explore different options and pursue a multi-dimensional way of life. When parents force children to excel in one specific sport, children don’t have the time to explore their options.
If children are going to play sports, it should be for their own enjoyment. They should learn and understand to do things because they find it fun, not because someone tells them to. If they just so happen to be very good at a sport, they should be allowed to decide whether they want to spend hours dedicating their lives to it or not.
Chantelle Baker is a 21-year-old communication studies senior from Waipahu, Hawaii.