Thursday, October 14, 2010

Teens and Extra Curricular Activities

Ask any “Soccer Mom” where she spends her time, and she’ll tell you – in the car! Extra curricular activities can take up every evening and most of the weekend, and parents may find themselves asking why make such an effort? As a “Volleyball and Softball Mom,” I’ve spent plenty of hours driving an athlete to and from practice and tournaments. I’ve spent even more hours sitting in the bleachers! Was it worth it? Definitely! YES.

While a great deal of research has pointed to the benefit of youth activities – including sports, cultural activities and community organizations, a recent study asked teens to describe their own growth experience in extra curricular activities. The teens participating in the study reported that their extra curricular activities helped them in many ways. As they tried new things, teens learned more about themselves.

They developed personal initiative by learning to set goals they could achieve, working hard and persevering, managing their time and taking responsibility for themselves. The teens also reported that they learned to manage their feelings, especially anger, anxiety and stress.

They developed feelings of loyalty and friendship with peers, even those outside of their existing social network. Additionally they learned not only to work as a team, but also to develop leadership skills. Finally, they also developed an understanding of how their communities operate and enjoyed support from coaches, leaders and community members.

So, as you attempt to navigate what can be challenging teen years, you might want to consider what opportunities your teens have to experience personal growth through participating in organized activities. What activities are your children involved in and how do you think they benefit from them?

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