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How team activities can help boost mental health, critical skills

Doctors say sports, music activities important

It's a tough balance for families to strike, especially if you have multiple kids involved in multiple activities.

But a new study might make all of the driving here and driving there a little easier to bear. It's no secret that participating in sports can benefit children physically. But new research finds playing team sports in particular may also help kids ward off depression.

"What they found were that team sports actually conferred protection in some kids that had adverse life effects long-term for mood" said Dr. Joe austerman, a Cleveland Clinic child psychiatrist. "So, they didn't get as depressed as often as kids that were not engaged in group activities or sports."

Austerman said team sports help kids learn important social skills and how to interact with their peers more effectively. Kids learn how to lead, follow, and negotiate with other kids to reach a common goal. If a child is struggling with their emotions or interacting with others, the structured setting of team sports can help create a safe environment to learn important social skills, said Austerman. 

Learning these skills in childhood can lead to more positive experiences in the future.

But it's not just sports that have benefits.

For example, experts say learning to play an instrument and playing with a group also helps develop important social skills, in addition to self-discipline, time management, and how to perform in front of others. Some studies have found students who receive musical training may also be culturally sensitive than those who don't.

"Having your kids in social activities, structured social activities that they can learn appropriately and they can be safe ... activities that help build persistence, and resilience, are very positive influences later on in life," said Austerman.

Don't overschedule

Of course, you can have too much of a good thing. If your child's activities are interfering with their school work or preventing them from getting sufficient sleep, that's a major red flag that they're overscheduled. It's also important to make sure they have some free time to play on their own, read, draw, or just run around.

Remember, nobody wants to eat dinner in the car every night.


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