As discussed in our previous post, children’s gymnastics bring a wealth of physical health benefits, but there are so many wider benefits to gymnastics and sport in general; particularly from a mental health perspective.
Talking about mental health in children is an unfortunate reality that is becoming more relevant by the day. The rise of social media and the societal pressures applied to youngsters so early on in their lives mean that this is a topic that is only getting more prevalent. This is why now, more than ever, it is important to provide our children with the necessary tools to thrive and develop a healthy mindset as they get older.
Something as simple as introducing them to gymnastics, can have a huge impact on their mental and cognitive development. In this article, we’re going to explore a few ways in which children’s gymnastics can benefit your little ones from a mental health perspective.
Develop Their Self-esteem and a Positive Body Image
Self-esteem is arguably one of the most important qualities to be nourished from as early an age as possible. By taking part in gymnastics’ activities, your children can experience a boost in their self-esteem as they become more confident and able. In addition to that, having the support of their passionate gymnastics instructors and their new friends around them will help them to feel good about themselves; especially as they overcome new challenges and feel the valuable sense of reward that comes with it.
A key part of feeling good about yourself is to actually be happy with the way you look. Sadly, like self-esteem, body image is becoming more and more of an issue with young children. Again, the fact that this even has to be mentioned is an unfortunate thing, but such is the sad reality of the world that our youth live in. Research suggests that children as young as three can form negative body image issues, and this is even more prevalent amongst girls.
But don’t panic! Because you, the parent, play a critical role in helping them to develop a positive body image! You are the trend setter, you are their example, you can show them to love themselves; and what better a way of doing so than by introducing them to gymnastics? But, how does it help?
First of all, gymnastics can help a child to familiarise themselves with their bodies. We spoke about spatial awareness & hand-eye coordination in our previous post on the ’10 incredible benefits of gymnastics for toddlers’, well this is an essential step in developing a positive body image. By understanding their bodies and having greater control over their movements, our children can grow to love and respect their bodies as well.
The physical health aspect of gymnastics plays a vital role in this too; as the regular exercise alone strengthens the body, helps to form healthier bones and is one of the most effective combatants against child obesity. All issues that can easily influence the way a child feels about themselves.
It is also important to remember that the way that we speak about our own bodies can have a huge impact on the way that children perceive themselves. It can be difficult to remain positive all of the time, but trying to refrain from speaking negatively about yourself in earshot of your children can make quite a difference.
Enhancing Their Social and Personal Skills
Some might argue that social skills have little to do with mental health, but this is a misconception as the two are closely linked. The ability to make friends and have healthy social interactions feels good and makes children (and adults) feel ‘normal’. The simple act of rewarding and congratulating children when they progress through a gymnastics activity helps to demonstrate to them how easy and rewarding it is to make others feel good about themselves.Our gymnastics classes are designed to help children to develop their social skills by working in groups where taking in turns is essential as well as empathy and patience that comes from working well with others.
These are seemingly small things but there are so many distractions for children in modern life, especially with all the screens that are made readily available to them. Taking part in a gymnastics class is an effective way of providing your little ones with healthy, technology-free zone, where they can practice self-awareness and exercise not only their bodies, but their self-discipline as well.
By following instructions and gradually making corrections to their movements, children develop this invaluable sense of discipline. It teaches them that they can choose their actions and that they can have consequences. Also that when taking part in a team exercise, they must be conscious of those around them and not allow themselves to be careless with their actions.
These skills help to form children into more rounded individuals and, with regards to their mental health, learning some self-discipline especially can benefit them in a great number of ways. Aiding them in persevering with new activities, following through on promises, moderating their behaviour and becoming mindful of how their actions can affect others.
Improving Concentration and Cognition
Gymnastics can be highly effective at promoting improved cognition in children. By providing children with an atmosphere that inspires concentration, challenge and creativity (amongst other things), gymnastics helps stimulate their minds, and this allows their imaginations can flourish as well. One thing that you may notice, if they are old enough, is how wonderfully this translates into their schoolwork and other extracurricular aspects of their lives. Like many sporting activities, gymnastics quite often has a positive ‘knock-on’ effect across the board.
All of these facets also tie in rather nicely with self-esteem. Providing children with activities that stimulate them both mentally and physically, but are achievable for their skill level, can help them to feel great about themselves; especially as they begin to see their own progression. This will invariably demonstrate the vital connection between hard work vs reward along with perseverance, which can be useful when using their problem-solving abilities as well.
All in all, we are passionate about gymnastics for children and want to shout from the rooftops about some of the truly valuable benefits, both mentally and physically, it can provide. So, if you’ve enjoyed reading this article and find yourself interested in exploring children’s gymnastics further, then why don’t you book your little one in for a free trial class?
Our instructors are incredibly friendly and will make both you and your child feel warm and welcome. See how your little one responds to the new activity and decide as to whether or not it is something that you would like to pursue on a regular basis. We’d love to see you here.
Most importantly of all, if you suspect you or your children are suffering from a mental health issue, then please don’t wait and seek help today. For all of us, our GP should be the first point of contact, but there is also a specialist mental health service for young people. The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) is provided by the NHS and specialise in diagnosing and treating mental health conditions in young people and will be able to start you on the process of getting any help needed.