Home a better place for building character than a sports team

Home a better place for building character than a sports team

If you want your children to learn teamwork skills and how to get along with others, don’t put them on a sports team…keep them home.  It seems that “doing things with the family” is a much more effective way to build character than spending time with peers or, say, the football coach (no slam of football coaches intended).  Coaches, no matter how qualified and diligent, cannot replace parents; nor can children’s peers replace the interaction of siblings.

This information comes from a study done a few years ago, but is worth pointing out again.  Especially now that children are back in school and many families have overextended themselves and their children on various lessons and sports teams.  Perhaps it’s time to take a second look.

The study’s author, Siu Kwong Wong, looked at data from 578 schools students enrolled in grades 5 through 12.  “Family-related activities strengthen the social bond and reduce delinquent associations and delinquency,” Wong advises.  As contrasted with “the amount of time playing sports increases delinquency and violent offenses in particular.”

Why?  The research suggests that “activities comprised of primarily peer participants, compared to those involving family members of conventional adults, tend to have less-positive effects on the social bond.”

As the year draws to a close and you’re planning your family’s 2011 calendar, consider blocking out large amounts of time for parental and sibling interaction.  Playing and working together as a family is going to yield much larger dividends than a dream of a child playing on a professional sports team or even being part of the NY Philharmonic…as wonderful as each of those things might be.

 

Source: Siu Kwong Wong, “The Effects of Adolescent Activities on Delinquency: A Differential Involvement Approach,” Journal of Youth and Adolescence 34 [2005]: 321-333.

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