When I was growing up, I did normal kid things like play on monkey bars and ride my bike into telephone poles.
I didn’t get into competitive sports — if you could even call it that — until I was in fourth grade, when I signed myself up for volleyball and basketball at my elementary school. I was just 10 years old when I learned how to do lay-ups and serve overhand.
But apparently, 10 is too old.
These days parents are throwing their kids into gyms and buying them training videos before they’re potty-trained, according to a story from the New York Times.
Gymtrix offers a library of videos starting with training for babies as young as 6 months. Kindergartners compete in soccer and T-ball leagues. Gyms across the country are enrolling children as young as 4 months old. And there’s a growing number of baby sports DVDs from athleticBaby and Baby Goes Pro.
Is this crazy — or a sign of the changing times?
Sure, my mom signed me up for a tumbling class when I was a toddler. But we rolled around on padded mats. It was probably more of a socializing exercise than an introduction to competitive gymnastics.
The entrepreneurs behind these businesses will argue different points: This is encouraging kids at a young age to be healthy and active, thereby combating the rising obesity rates. And let’s face it, the younger you start in a sport, the better you’ll likely be.
But when are parents just pushing their kids too much — and too young?
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Parents are starting their kids off in Sports, Beauty Pagents, and who knows what else at an earlier age. I don’t know why but I have to assume that it would be a Financial gain later on or to paste their kids name/face in the spot light (for childhood acting stars and such).
I can’t say much on Beauty Pagents or acting but as for sports I’d rather see the kids develop their own natural ability to play something. What I mean is not to force the young child to play a sport that he/she may not particularly want to play in. By young I mean no older than 9 or 10 years old. A younger child will probably need more development, guidance, and self growth than anything else.
I’m more concerned with the physiological development of bones and muscles. I’d rather see a natural growth of bones, tendons, ligaments, and muscles instead of having to treat a child for a pulled muscle or a torn ligament at an age that an injury such as that shouldn’t have happened in the first place.
This disgusts me. Kids need time to be kids. One day they’ll be adults, and they’ll look back on their childhoods and wonder why they can’t be young again. If they were spending all that time being miniature adults, then what are they going to remember from their childhood, rushing back and forth from one activity to another? The pressure to be perfect? The competition? Bring back unstructured play!
I can’t remember when I was 2 years old. My earliest memory is from when I was 7 years old. But I’m a nice person, so I guess my parents did a good job.
Our pediatrician told us that if you are going to consider having your kid play sports you should start around age 7, otherwise it would be hard to catch if you start too late. That seems like a reasonable recommendation. Today in public elementary school there is little or no Physical Ed because all of the emphasis is on meeting the “standards” so kids do not learn basics like running, catching and throwing. Many only grow up with sports being played as video games and don’t do the real thing.
As a coach I have seen many kids that have never learned to catch or throw until they try to play a sport when they are in 6th grade or so. It is really hard for them to catch up because running, catching and throwing are the basic mechanics for almost all sports, if they do not have these skills, then it is very hard for them to learn the unique skills for sport they are trying to play. Many of them quit because they cannot keep up.
So if you want your kids to play sports, the best thing to do is to spend the time to teach them how to run, throw and catch when they are younger and keep them away from the video games. Don’t force it on them but have them learn this as part spending quality time with them.
While there’s nothing wrong with starting things early, I doubt sports is one of those things.. well, at least when they’re that young.
It is one thing when a kid does it all in it’s own pace and in a playful way, as a game so to say, but when adults are pushing the kid to go further I think they will easily push too far. Muscles and/or bones grown wrong easily and that is a major concern to me when I read about all that.
To make myself as an example (although not sports related, it gives an example of how fast things can go wrong): when I was a kid I broke a leg (I was like 1-1.5 years old). This resulted in one of my legs now being shorter for about an inch, which resulted in my backbone not being completely straight, and that resulted in me getting pain in my back almost daily (it’s bareable but painful). All because one of my legs was wrapped in for a few months when I was that young which stopped the grow during that time. I’m just saying, damage to a kid’s muscles or bones is done very easily when they’re not fully grown yet, and you might not see it now, but you will later in life.
If you want to fight obesity, maybe people should stop giving sweets all the time to just silence their kids when they cry (let them cry, crying isn’t bad, obesity is), stop watching tv while eating, don’t let them play on the xbox of ps3 all the time but send them out to play instead. And stop those weekly visits to Mc Donalds, even though there is one on every corner of the street (why is there no law preventing that anyways?). Don’t give them money for lunch on school because you can figure out yourself they wont be buying the healthy stuff, give them their own lunch (and not spaghetti all of the time as I see many people give their kids, that’s all carbs). Give them healthy food, veggies and not all meat, vary things to keep it interesting. Don’t give them Coke or similar sodas, give them sugarfree drinks instead (and no, sugarfree Coke aint good either). Don’t let them stay up until midnight because they seem so active (they’re not really active, they’re usually just fighting their sleep and acting like not sleepy so they don’t have to go to bed… they cry when in bed? Let them cry, eventually it will wear off and they fall asleep.. crying aint bad), letting kids stay up that late is another reason why kids are obese. So many things that could be done to keep things healthy without forcing kids into sports and the risk of pushing them too far.
Sure, you can do lot’s of things to prepare them for sports later on in life in a fun and playful way.. think about playing fetch or acting as if you’re going to catch them so they run away.. but don’t do it in a competitive way where you keep pushing them to go further and further. In the end, I think you could even go as far as to call it abuse as it isn’t natural for babies and toddlers to sport and compete in such ways.
But, in a way I don’t think it has much to do with sports and obesity… I think it has more to do with a ticket home for the parents.. it will be easy money for them when the kid is succesful in sports 😉
There is one rule I have for my son, if you join a team give it your best. After the season choose to play more or stop and try something else. And when you play remember there are others looking for your best, so give it. Never seen him give less than all he had and for that I am most proud.
To date I have been my son’s teacher, it is my job being his dad. And I take great pride in watching him learn, he will never get that from anyone but me. Nobody loves him more than me, and no one cares if he gets the most from himself more than me. Keep your training videos, summer camps, and other distractions and teach your kids how to play, they will listen to parents way better than anyone else. When they get older they will respect the coaches they play for and their teammates way better.
Families that play together stay together.
Color me skeptical. I wonder if this is a trend or a case of a relatively small handful of upper income parents indulging their dreams of having a professional athlete in the family. As others have pointed out, kids are getting less and less exercise. Even kids in several team sports aren’t getting enough physical activity at practice, according to a pediatricians study:
It also reminds me of poor Todd Marinovich. His father trained him from birth to be an NFL quarterback. Hamstring streches as a newborn, passing drills at 6, a strictly controlled diet that excluded pizzas, french fries & Big Macs, etc. Todd starred at USC, was drafted and then bombed in the NFL. Turns out he hated playing football, thanks to his dad’s ultra-controlling way
@PatrickWilliams Well Todd has never said he hated football as far as I know . I read a recent article in Esquire magazine about him and with all that has happened to him he still seems to have a love for the game, even helping to coach young QBs here and there. Then again what else does he know right? I saw him play in person and I couldn’t believe someone that young had that kind of ability. It’s really a shame how he got caught up in drugs, which was the main problem in him not succeeding. He was prepared for football but not much else in life, and that definitely is on his dad (Marv Marinovich, who some might remember trained BJ Penn for a recent fight).
@808marv Doh! Marv has better Marinovich recall than I do. Yep, a drug problem derailed Todd Marinovich. Thanks for the correction. I didn’t know his pop had trained BJ Penn.
It isn’t just sports, but languages, science, and just about everything else super-competitive parents (or those worried about other parents perceived to be super-competitive) want to prepare their toddlers to be competitive in this world. Hey, there are over 300 million people in China learning English right now. I once heard a child who appeared to be about 4 years old tell a librarian that he had read all the Greek mythology in the library, and he was ready to start on the Norse mythology.
i would have said under 7 was too young for training for adult endeavors, but,when he was 3, to keep our son from vegging in front of the tube we set him in front of an easel and a bunch of paint that couldn’t poison him if he ate it,and a coffee can full of brushes. he’s 24 now and he never stopped painting, today he is galleried working artist living in NYC. (and he’s here now, visiting us for the holidays.!)