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How can I help my kids play sports without burning out?

Playing sports brings many benefits, such as improved fitness and better social skills. But pressure to succeed at a young age has mounted in recent years, setting the stage for more physical overuse injuries. Injuries such as stress fractures in children were unheard of years ago but now have become more common.

Pushing kids too hard can also overwhelm the mind. Sports specialization at young ages has penetrated down to the baby crib. Focusing a child’s effort on a single sport full-time with the hope of gaining a competitive edge can lead to emotional stress or burnout.

Even good intentions (such as securing an athletic scholarship) can cause harm if they encourage inappropriate activities for a child, produce unrealistic expectations and are not coupled with important knowledge of development. Sports should be what kids do -- not who they are.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.