Injury prevention for children during physical activity
To prevent injury during physical activity, you can look at whether children’s bodies, environments and skills are safe for the activity. Physical activity includes everyday play as well as organised exercise and sport.
Children can avoid most injuries by:
- doing activities they’re physically prepared and strong enough for
- doing activities that use their own body weight in short bursts – for example, monkey bars or skipping
- wearing appropriate safety gear – for example, helmets, shin guards or mouth guards
- drinking water before, during and after playing
- being sun safe by wearing sunscreen and hats during hot or sunny weather
- warming up before sport and gently stretching afterwards
- getting the right treatment for injury before returning to the activity.
It’s also important for children to:
- play in areas that are free of hazards like broken equipment, uneven surfaces and sharp rubbish
- not stay too long in cold water when swimming
- wear clothes that are suited to the environment
- avoid playing outdoors during extreme heat.
You can also keep children safe by making sure they:
- do a variety of activities
- avoid specialising in sport at a young age
- don’t play only one sport all year long – perhaps try mix it up by getting them to play different sports each season
- play sports that have been modified or designed for children
- understand what they need to do to take part in the activity
- practise the skills they need for activities like climbing, balancing and catching
- understand and follow the rules of any game or sport they’re playing.
Emotional injury prevention
Being physically active can improve your child’s self-esteem and confidence. It can also reduce anxiety and stress. But feelings can get bruised and knocked about during physical activity too!
Here are ways to look after your child’s overall happiness and wellbeing when your child is involved in physical activity and sport:
- If your child doesn’t want to do a particular type of physical activity, try not to force it. It can help to talk about the reasons your child doesn’t want to do it, and help your child think of other activities to try.
- If your child needs help to build skills and confidence, your child could try practising with a friend at home. Or you and your child could practise together.
- Try to keep your child away from criticism, abuse or shouting from other players, spectators, coaches or parents. Physical activity is meant to be about fun.
- Ask other parents if they know about any coaches, teams and competitions that they feel are positive and fair to all children.
- Praise your child’s efforts, point out personal bests, and notice when your child improves at something.
- Be a great role model for staying positive about your child’s physical activity and effort. Just saying ‘I love to watch you play’ can make a huge difference.