Children must enjoy what they're doing

Signing up your child for extra sports coaching may mean a healthier lifestyle. But only if it's intended to help develop your child's character traits and physical conditioning, said Mr Lim Biow Chuan, chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Education.

"If your aim is to push your child so that he can qualify for the Direct School Admission, then it may mean unnecessary stress.

"It could then kill the interest your child has in the sport, and it becomes a drag for him to attend training - just like how many children dislike attending tuition for their academic subjects," he said.

Mr Lim also warned parents that it could lead to the child overworking and burning out if he or she ends up "training five times a week collectively". Should that happen, it's a serious psychological problem, said sports psychologist Jay-Lee Longbottom.


"The child would first begin to devalue sports, and feel a reduced sense of accomplishment and confidence.

They would also become easily emotionally and physically exhausted."

And the best way to avoid such a scenario is for parents and children to agree on the child's workload, she said.

"Children must feel that they are doing this for themselves, not for the parent or anyone else.

With the right intrinsic motivation, the number of hours put into training would then not be a factor. "In other words, they must enjoy what they are doing."

After all, the main objective of sports is for children to build character, learn to work in a team and stay active, Dr Longbottom said.

Getting children to exercise may not be a bad thing, said Dr Ben Tan, chief of the department of sports medicine at Changi General Hospital.

"Many children today are not getting enough exercise. If sending them to such sporting programmes are done with the right intentions, it could mean a healthier lifestyle."

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