M35 — September 2012 — Sports & Bullying
Intro: Anywhere there is a pecking order there is the potential for bullying. For children, the competitive nature of sports can add an extra element of aggression. We talked to a Mayo Clinic Sports Psychologist to see how parents, coaches, and kids can all make a positive difference. Here's Dennis Douda for the Mayo Clinic News Network.
Organized sports come packed with opportunities to develop new skills, athletically, emotionally and socially. Tammy Gathman says her daughter has certainly grown from playing soccer.
"What kind of attitudes have you shown? What kind of qualities?"
Mayo Clinic Sports Psychologist Max Trenerry believes in teaching players to appreciate the core qualities that make competitive sports worthwhile.
"And, for me, I think one of the issues is that everybody has a responsibility, but it's not necessarily based on seniority. It's based on effort and dedication."
Dr. Trenerry is also a youth soccer coach and Sport Psychology consultant for U.S. Youth Soccer's Region II.
He says his objective is to instill values to prevent negative behavior, like bullying, and also to inoculate kids so that they are better prepared if they become the target of bullying.
So, mixed into his conditioning and fundamental soccer training are healthy doses of fun and clear messages about values and teamwork.
"And I think that helps prevent the development of clicks or small groups within a team. I think it helps develop some appreciation of teammates."
"What qualities do you want in a team mate or maybe a classmate?"
Trenerry says when young athletes identify the behaviors they want to see in others they are more likely to behave that way themselves.
"So, as a teammate, you would help protect somebody that was being bullied."
The Doctor says while a parent does not want to encourage quitting, don't force a child to stick with a sport if bullying is causing ongoing emotional stress. And always remember professional help is available.
"You may need some clinical assistance with that so that you may have to consult a psychologist to deal with the emotional aftermath."
For the Mayo Clinic News Network, I'm Dennis Douda.
Dr. Trenerry (treh-NARY) says competition is useful for bringing out an athlete's best effort, but believes there's often far too much focus on winning rather than the quality of play.
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