Kids need sports. It’s widely acknowledged that team sports are important for children of all ages, for promoting physical health and well-being. But for kids fleeing a violent home with their mums, sports offer a whole world of benefits. Share The Dignity, with help from wonderful partner businesses, offers children access to free activities while recovering from the trauma of domestic violence. These kids are often alienated from their friends, suddenly change schools, experience massive upheaval and trauma. So, why do these kids need sports?
Kids Need Friendships
While most kids manage to make at least a few friends at school, some struggle to find kids who they ‘click’ with. Kids who have been through domestic violence trauma may feel terribly isolated. By joining a team or engaging in group activities that align with their interests, they are more likely to find friends to share these interests with. Many of the friendships developed through participating in team sports will carry over to other settings.
Kids Need Role Models
Kids all need someone to look up to, someone who they can aspire to be like. We all want our kids to have good role models and make good choices. Sometimes these people can’t be found in their immediate network, so joining a sporting club is a good way to introduce them to good role models. Sports clubs often attract people with the attributes we tend to admire and want for our kids, such as teammanship, commitment, and consideration for others. For a child who has le
Kids Need Supportive Adults
Children fleeing domestic violence may have damaged views on adult roles. They may not feel that an adult, especially a male adult, has their best interests at heart. If children do not have great relationships with their parents or other adult members of their family they can benefit from connecting with other trusted adults, who they can turn to for support. This may be in the form of other parents, older players, or coaches. Kids need sport to make connections with these positive adults.
Sports Need Rules
Kids who struggle with following instructions, or complying with rules can benefit from participating in team sports. It’s hard to play a game without knowing the rules, and your team mates certainly don’t appreciate it if you have an alternate agenda! It makes sense to follow rules when playing team sports, which gives those children who tend to struggle in this area the perfect opportunity to learn how to follow rules, and find out why sometimes it’s necessary for everyone’s benefit. If a child has reacted to a violent situation by rebelling, sports can help them to find a more centred place.
Sports Give Kids Pride
There is nothing like the buzz of a sporting win. Whether it be a try, a goal, or an outright win, it’s hard not to feel a sense of pride in yourself and your team that brightens your week. This sense of pride can ‘fill your bucket’ (to borrow from the Bucket Dipper/ Filler concept) and have a positive impact on a child’s sense of self-worth and self-esteem. Children who have been through prolonged trauma may struggle in this area and sports can help them find new ways to feel positive about themselves.
Kids Need Confidence
Sometimes it doesn’t take much for a child’s confidence to be knocked (and domestic violence is certainly a negative situation for a little person). No parent wants to hear their little one declare that they aren’t good at anything. Finding a sport or activity that a child is good at can give them the confidence boost they need to realise that they have potential to master new skills. Share The Dignity works with a variety of partners to ensure every child has the chance to grow their self esteem.
Kids Need a Sense of Purpose
Joining a team can give those children who tend to think school is pointless, a sense of purpose and meaning. While they may struggle to get motivated for school, the many rewards of being part of a team can be very motivational and foster a sense of commitment that may otherwise be misdirected. Overcoming the “everything’s bad and I don’t care” attitude is tough for all parents, but women in recovery after partner violence can struggle to help their child get back onto a more positive path.
Kids Need a Sense of Belonging
There’s nothing like feeling like you are part of something bigger than you. Many children can struggle to find their place in the world, particularly if they fail to find common ground with people in their immediate network. It’s a natural human instinct to want to be part of a community, and sports teams can be an amazing community to be a part of. Often a child will move schools and neighbourhoods when fleeing domestic violence – sports can help a vulnerable child feel like they’re part of a supported crowd.
Anchoring the Past to the Present and Future
Many of us would agree that some of our most enduring memories are from being involved in team sports and group activities. These memories help to form the values and ideals by which we live our lives and hope to instil in our children. This anchoring to our past is important for our sense of self and for shaping our future aspirations. When adults look back on their experiences, sports can help change the narrative from memories of a violent parent.
Sports Provide Lifelong Connections
The connections made through participation in team sports and group activities can endure beyond the season or after the year has come to a close. Many of the friendships formed through team sports will last a lifetime. A community based on common interests and shared goals has been established. What a wonderful thing to be a part of! While a child leaving a violent home may feel isolated and like nobody understands, a sporting team can help him to rebuild his identity and form friendships untainted by secrets and traumas at home.
All kids need sports but kids recovering from domestic violence trauma can benefit from sports and other activities on far greater levels. It’s vital to help these kids rebuild a life and create a new, more peaceful reality for themselves. Sports and other activities can make all the difference.
About The Author: Dr Nicole Grant has undertaken degrees in both the fields of psychology and occupational therapy and is the Director of Brisbane-based Occupational Therapy firm Gateway Therapies, where she works with kids all ages.