Sports anxiety can affect your child mentally: Here’s how to manage it

Does your kid get anxious when playing sports? Here are some expert-approved tips to manage social anxiety in kids.
Dr Rashi Agarwal Published: 16 Mar 2023, 12:00 pm IST
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Sports bring up a lot of opportunities as well as challenges for children. Not many know this, but performance anxiety is a real problem that affects many athletes. The constant pressure to do well in sports can put pressure on your child as well. While parents do their best for their children and support them in whatever ways they can in this endeavour, sometimes it isn’t enough to manage sports anxiety!

How to manage sports anxiety in kids?

Small things that can be kept in mind while putting your child up for any sports activity. Let’s find out!

1. Proper physical and mental assessment

Just as physical abilities are judged or assessed before participating in any sport, mental capacity should also be assessed to determine if the child is ready to face the challenges that will arise during the game.

sports anxiety in kids
How to manage sports anxiety in children. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Also Read: Study says physical activity helps mental health in children: 4 exercises kids can do every day

2. Give due importance to counselling

Sports are not just about physical precision and power. Many require a lot of stability and mental strength to focus, and channel that for optimum performance.

3. Know when to stop and quit

Parents and teachers should teach their children and students when to stop and drop out rather than running in the rat race of winning. Usually, highly competitive sports cause a lot of pent-up anxiety in children, which can affect their other phases of life.

4. Discuss the child’s comfort

From time to time, talk to the child about their comfort in the specific game. Some sports or activities such as swimming, require the child to be physically vulnerable, as teenagers’ bodies go through changes, and they may not be comfortable coming out and accepting them completely. Providing a safe place for the child to come, and talk about any problems

5. Support your child

Support a child’s dream by giving him or her a free hand in playing the sport they like, not what’s trending. For example, boys should not be discouraged if they choose classical dancing or ballet, and girls should not be discouraged if they play cricket or football. We need to eliminate gender bias in sports because athletes thrive when they do things they enjoy and are passionate about it.

Also Read: 5 tips all parents must imbibe to support their child’s mental health

6. Family therapy might help

Family therapy to bridge communication gaps and have open discussions about failures. We know it’s not always going to be a win-win situation, and sports build a lot of character even when people lose. It’s fine that they accept it as part of the game rather than getting upset about it. It’s natural to feel bad, but the energy can and should be channelled into improving oneself and not sulking or storing up anger against the people who are winning. Kids flourish a lot when they have parental support, knowing that their parents will support them no matter what.

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social anxiety in children
Family therapy may help deal with social anxiety in children. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

7. Encourage team building

A lot of sports are played in teams. This builds group effort. The child should also be encouraged to be a part of the group and follow rules and leadership. It builds a lot of patience in the child as they might not always feel in control but also learn how to take orders and follow a set schedule.

8. Visiting a psychiatrist

There will be things your child will be good at as well as bad at. That can affect their physical and mental health. If the child has any behavioural changes affecting their day-to-day life (such as changes in sleep or appetite), consult the doctor right away. The job of parents is to know when and how their children are affected and to get the right professional help for them at the right time to help them cope in terms of both regular physical and mental health assessments.

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About the Author

Dr Rashi Agarwal is a psychiatrist and sex educator. She did her M.B.B.S. at Subharti Medical College and obtained a degree in psychiatry from Shri Guru Ram Rai Institute of Medical and Health Science. She began practising as a psychiatrist at the Department of Psychiatry, Medico Home then worked as a Senior Resident Doctor at the Department of Psychiatry, L.L.R.M. Medical College. ...Read More

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