As children develop from infants to teens to adults they go through a series of developmental
stages that are important to all aspects of their personhood including physical, intellectual,
emotional and social. The proper role of the parent is to provide encouragement, support and
access to activities that enable the child to master key developmental tasks.
A parent is their child’s first teacher and should remain their best teacher throughout life.
Functioning as a coach, the parent exposes a child to age appropriate challenges to encourage
development as well as to experiences that allows the child to explore on their own and learn
from interacting with their environment. Child Development specialists have learned that from
birth children are goal directed to experiment and learn from each experience.
Child Development experts have taken the concept of scaffolding from the building trades. Just
as scaffolding is put up to support the structure of the building as it is being built and gradually
taken down as the building is able to stand on its own, a parent needs to provide the necessary
support for a child to allow them to safely and productively explore and learn from their
environment. As the child matures and develops mastery the scaffolding is removed or changed
to allow the child to become more independent. If the child is not quite ready, the support is
reinstated and then gradually withdrawn once again.
The information here provides parents with the knowledge and guidelines and tools to provide
the support, guidance and learning experiences necessary for their child to grow and develop
according to his/her unique developmental blueprint.
Importance of sport
Playing sport can:
improve physical fitness
improve confidence through learning skills and success
help children to learn to control their impulses - this is necessary for success in sport as well as
help build friendships
start lifetime interests
help children learn about rules and fair play
help children to cope with winning and losing
help children do better at school work.
Increasing overweight and obesity is happening world wide. People who are overweight or obese
are more likely to have health problems. Helping young children to develop good eating patterns
and enjoyment from sport and exercise may help them avoid later health problems.
Children and young people who play and enjoy sport are less likely to join in anti-social
activities. If children have a disability or ongoing medical problem there are many sports they
can play. Discuss this with your child's doctor and then find out what is available in your area.
The National Junior Sport Policy recommends that children should generally not play organised
competitive sport until 8-10 years.
If children are started in competitive sport before they are emotionally or physically ready they
are likely to experience disappointment and stress and may give up playing altogether.
Children under 8 need to have the freedom to play, explore and learn the skills of throwing and
catching, kicking and hitting a ball, jumping, running and swimming in an enjoyable way.
It is having these skills that enables them to confidently move on to the next step.
Parents can play an important role in playing games with children that help them to learn these
skills in an enjoyable way without pressure. For example kicking a ball to each other in the
backyard or park, throwing a ball through a hoop, or playing bat and ball games where everyone
has a turn and the scores are not counted. Children need lots of practice at doing well before
they can learn to lose. See the.
8-10 year olds
Depending on their individual development 8-10 year olds can join in organised competition (eg
inter-school competition) that is adapted to meet the children's developing needs.
They will still need help with skill development and with coping with disappointment.
Children who lose too often are most likely to give up, so making sure that each child has some
successes is important.
This is a time when children can try lots of different sports to see what they enjoy most.
11-12 years and over
Children and young people can enjoy the competition and still be learning skills.
Some children at this age are showing special talent at and interest in a particular sport and can
benefit from individual coaching.
Children and young people need to learn about how to behave when playing, and when winning
Sport at this stage can involve trips away with a team and opportunities for team leadership.
It is important not to push any young people beyond what they are physically ready for and to
find out about what is appropriate in relation to their age and the sport they are playing.
For young people who want to drop out of competitive team sport, activities such as bush
walking, orienteering, gymnastics (or exercise classes at the local gym), roller-skating or horse
riding may take their place. See the topic .
Note: the suggestions above are general and the interests and abilities of each individual child
should be taken into account when helping them choose what sports to play and at what level.
To enjoy playing sport children need to be prepared and to follow some safety rules. Sporting
injuries to children often happen because of not following safety rules.
Most sports have particular suggested safety equipment, eg helmet, shin guards, mouth guards.
Find out from the coach what your child needs for her sport and make sure she has well fitted
Children's playing areas should be safe from hazards.
Before and after playing warm-ups and warm-downs help to prevent soreness and muscle pain.
Young children should not do exercises that put a strain on their developing bones, joints and
muscles. It is best to do a variety of exercises, not over emphasise one, and not to go on for too
long. Training with weights is not appropriate before adolescence and should always be done
with trained supervision.
It is best for children to be playing against others of similar size and age.
Children's bodies can get too hot or too cold more quickly than adults'. They should not:
o play sport for sessions that last longer than half an hour
o play sport in very hot weather (over about 30º Centigrade)
o stay in very cold water for long periods of time when swimming - and they should wear
warm clothing between events if the weather is cold.
Children do not always know when they need to drink, and often need to drink before they feel
thirsty. Make sure they drink water before, during and after playing.
In hot weather children need sunscreen, protective clothing and hats.
It is also important to protect children from emotional injuries such as:
o being forced to do something they don't want to or are afraid to
o being blamed, labelled or criticised for not doing well
o being yelled at or abused by anyone - spectators, coach or players.
If children are injured during play it is important to get correct treatment to protect growing
The Indonesian Sports Commission - Junior Sport recommends that young children participate in
modified sport so as to avoid the risk of injury and also to ensure that appropriate skills are
developed using equipment that is suitable for young people. There are over 40 sports that have
been modified to meet the needs of younger children. Your child's school will have information
about modified sports.
What parents can do
Much sport for children and young people would not exist without support from parents as
coaches, drivers, umpires, fundraisers and cheerleaders so parents play a very important role.
For their own children parents can encourage their enjoyment of and participation in sport in lots
play and enjoy sports themselves so children are more likely to want to copy them and join in
play with children and teach them the skills
set challenges that children can succeed at and develop confidence, eg set the target for a
throwing game just within the child's skill level
support children to take part in sports without making them do so or pressuring them to do
what they don't enjoy
go with children to their sport and stay to watch them
encourage children and help them to focus on improving their own skills and doing the best they
give children encouragement for what they do well
show children how to be a "good sport" by how they themselves react to winning and losing, eg
clap whenever there is good play, not just when it is your child or team that has succeeded
help children to learn the rules of the game and explain why rules are important
never criticise or blame children for mistakes. Help them see that everyone makes mistakes, and
mistakes are to learn from.
Explain to your child that winning does not simply mean coming first or being the best.
Achieving a personal best or performing a skill for the first time is just as important as winning
and should be praised and encouraged as such.
Some parents can get very emotionally involved with their children's sport and very upset if
things do not seem to be going well.
It is important that parents show courtesy and consideration at sporting events and do not
argue with or abuse the umpires or other players. This stresses their own children as well as
making it uncomfortable for everyone else.
If you believe that you cannot manage your own feelings at sporting events it is better to let
someone else take your child.