This is the season for physicals. Summer time is when teens are getting their sports clearance. Normally, you either have physical risk factors or you don't. For example, if you have a heart condition or severe asthma, you may be able to play, may not, or may need to be stabilized before I can clear your child to play sports. There are several medical conditions which prohibit sports participation. The following link reviews such conditions in detail, http://bit.ly/176mMsk. However, medical clearance also needs to take emotional maturity into account.
This week, I made the recommendation for a tween to delay sports participation in Cheerleading until she was ready. Children tend to feel invincible in their tween and teen years. They don't always realize that they need to develop personal responsibility for their bodies. In sports, your body is your tool. Sports participation requires the participant to be mature enough to care for herself, prevent injury, assume reasonable risks, and to be able to eliminate all unnecessary distractions. Unfortunately, she wasn't ready. She had a history of several preventable injuries, mostly caused by her distractibility by friends. The child that gets injured due to distraction is more likely to get more severe injuries while in sports.
So what's the solution? Have open and honest conversations with your children about the importance of sports. Focus especially on the aspect of responsibility in sports. Especially with team sports, such as cheerleading, you're not only responsible for yourself, but also responsible for your teammates. If your child does not quite have the level of maturity and emotional responsibility that's required to participate in team sports, then wait until they are ready. Have them demonstrate to you over a period of time that they are mature enough and responsible enough to participate on a team. The delay will undoubtedly cause some heartbreak for your tween or teen. However, it will save you and your child from injury and pain. Cheerleading and other sports participation is meant to help in the development, both physical and emotional, of your child, but only when he/she is ready.