Are we pushing our children too hard too young in the quest for sporting excellence?
Are we doing too many activities with our kids, and not allowing their bodies to grow, develop and rest?
I think this is a new juggle for modern parents, managing our children’s sporting life in their best interests, and not based on our pride at their achievements, or our ego, or our fear of them missing out.
Injuries have always happened in sport. Kids have always got injured doing sporting activities, I’m not disputing that, but I do wonder if we allow our kids enough time to recover from sporting injuries, before we race them back into their team, their rep sides, trials, or training.
When I was young, I remember hearing about ‘growing pains’. My friends went through stages when they grew really fast over a short period of time and their bones and muscles hurt. This was never a problem for me – fast growing was never a problem for me! In any case, I remember my friends going through this, so it’s been a ‘thing’ for a while. And maybe this is a part of it.
I don’t remember them going to long term physio, or a chiropractor, I remember them taking a break from sport and resting. If they played sport they would be sore, and sometimes they did it anyway, but I don’t remember any of my friends being incapacitated by back pain, knee pain, neck pain, hip pain, or muscular, tendon, or any injuries like these that required serious medical attention.
These are now seemingly common-place. It’s normal. In every PE class I taught over the last couple of weeks, there was a child with a serious injury that I would expect to see in an adult, not a young fit kid.
These kids are fit, participate in multiple sports which they love, and excell in and yet they are injured, and then re-injured, they have notes from chiropractors, from doctors, from physiotherapists, to excuse them from some sporting activities, and yet some are still playing in their weekend team sports or rep sides. The injuries seem to take them out for long periods of time from being normal kids, and it worries me.
It doesn’t make sense that medical notes and treatment should be normal for 10, 11, 12, 13 or 14 year olds.
It doesn’t make sense that coaches and clubs should try and ‘manage’ injuries that haven’t had complete, or enough, rehab.
This must fall to us as parents to step in and control.
This must become our responsibility to act as the middle man between expectations and health.
Yes – I know that…
- our kids will hate us for a period of time.
- every situation is different
- pushing through sometimes is needed in certain circumstances, but not week after week after week without improvement
- Kids don’t want to miss out
- coaches are pushing kids to win and they have expectations too
But it’s not okay for all these serious, long term injuries.
Parents need to step up and be the ‘mean guy’ here.
Parents need to get as much advice as they can and then follow it.
These are my final thoughts on this:
In these young formative years I think we need to be careful about how much we push our kids when they are growing and going through puberty and change.
This time of life is important, and we want to set our kids up right, and not set them up with long term injuries that may have been preventable.