Sports and stress

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Sports and stress

Parents are very concerned about the level of sports involvement that their children have as more rigorous sports go to younger and younger ages. We now have traveling teams for 7 and 8 year olds. It's never a good idea for children to be locked into hours of practice in a particular day. Young bodies are not made to be pounded nor are young minds made to pick a single thing; whether it's soccer or lacrosse or basketball. One of the developmental tasks of childhood is to try out different things. That's how you find out what is a good match for you. Sitting week after week after week at your child's lacrosse game, I think is a big mistake. Why? When it doesn't give your child a chance to try different things. Two, I think it make adulthood look really boring because you have no life other than sitting passively in the bleachers week after week. Who would want to do that, when you are a child running around having a good time. I think it doesn't serve parents well and it doesn't serve kids well. The research on this, by the way, is that it's not the amount of extracurriculars that are damaging to a child, it's the amount of criticism that accompanies it. Kids, after all, are robust. In my day, you ran around outside all day until the streetlights come on. That's how you knew it was time to go inside. Kids can play for hours. What they can't handle is someone saying, "You are awful at that." "What kind of guy are you?" "You're playing like a girl." All the comments that are being thrown around. That is really damaging to kids in terms of extracurriculars, and we should be paying attention to who is teaching our child. Try and encourage them to play on their own a little bit.

Watch Madeline Levine, PhD's video on Sports and stress...


Expert Bio

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Madeline Levine, PhD

Psychologist & Author

Madeline Levine, PhD, is a psychologist with close to 30 years of experience as a clinician, consultant and educator. Her New York Times bestseller, The Price of Privilege, explores the reasons why teenagers from affluent families are experiencing epidemic rates of emotional problems.  Her book, Teach Your Children Well, outlines how our current narrow definition of success unnecessarily stresses academically talented kids and marginalizes many more whose talents and interests are less amenable to measurement. The development of skills needed to be successful in the 21st century- creativity, collaboration, innovation – are not easily developed in our competitive, fast-paced, high pressure world. Teach Your Children Well gives practical, research- based solutions to help parents return their families to healthier and saner versions of themselves.

Dr. Levine is also a co-founder of Challenge Success, a project born at the Stanford School of Education. Challenge Success believes that our increasingly competitive world has led to tremendous anxiety about our children’s’ futures and has resulted in a high pressure, myopic focus on grades, test scores and performance. This kind of pressure and narrow focus isn’t helping our kids become the resilient, capable, meaningful contributors we need in the 21st century. So every day, Challenge Success provides families and schools with the practical research-based tools they need to raise healthy, motivated kids, capable of reaching their full potential. We know that success is measured over the course of a lifetime, not at the end of the grading period.

Dr. Levine began her career as an elementary and junior high school teacher in the South Bronx of New York before moving to California and earning her degrees in psychology. She has had a large clinical practice with an emphasis on child and adolescent problems and parenting issues. Currently however, she spends most of her time crisscrossing the country speaking to parents, educators, students, and business leaders. Dr. Levine has taught Child Development classes to graduate students at the University of California Medical Center/ San Francisco. For many years, Dr. Levine has been a consultant to various schools, from preschool through High School, public as well as private, throughout the country. She has been featured on television programs from the Early Show to the Lehrer report, on NPR stations such as Diane Rheems in Washington and positively reviewed in publications from Scientific American to the Washington Post. She is sought out both nationally and internationally as an expert and keynote speaker. 

Dr. Levine and her husband of 35 years, Lee Schwartz, MD are the incredibly proud (and slightly relieved) parents of three newly minted and thriving sons.

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