Personality Development in Children Who Play Sports

You might encourage your child to play sports because being physically active is healthy for the mind and body. Children who play sports also might learn character and behavior traits that help fill out their personalities. However, the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition notes that only one in three children in the United States gets physical exercise every day, while most children spend more than seven hours a day in front of a TV or computer screen 1. Getting your kids involved in playing sports will help them get more active and, perhaps, develop a healthier personality.

Higher Self-Esteem

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, playing a sport can help improve a child's self-esteem. Because it takes physical, mental and emotional endurance to compete, children learn motivation, determination, and the long-term benefits of training and working toward a goal. The feeling of accomplishment as they work to build their athletic skills improves self-esteem, a personality trait that is important in taking on other challenges in life.

Better Social Skills

Playing a team sport helps children bond with each other. A web page on the University of Florida website cites research by the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports that found children who play sports have better social skills. Playing a sport requires cooperating with others, learning to play fair and having fun with others while working toward a common goal. Your child might also develop a healthy sense of competition with teammates. This gives children better skills to interact with others at school and home.

Leadership Abilities

If you're a soccer mom or have a child who plays any sport, you know that getting to practice on time and with all the right equipment can be a challenge. Although you might have to coax your child out of bed or away from the TV, he will soon learn to manage his own schedule and get to practices and games. This helps your child develop leadership abilities. According to research by the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports, playing a sport also teaches children to take on other leadership roles such as handling conflict, developing game strategies and encouraging team members.


Learning to cope with the emotional highs and lows of life in a healthy manner is a valuable personality trait for children and adults. Playing a sport gives your child the experiences of joy and excitement after a win and grief and frustration after a loss. The Raising Children Network notes that sports help to teach children to bounce back and try again after failure. It also teaches them that sometimes, even though they might play their best, their team will lose. Additionally, unlike many other incidences of loss in life, playing a sport gives children an organized and structured environment where coaches and team members can provide encouragement and help build resilience.

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