Physical injury prevention during physical activity
To help with preventing 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 enough water before, during and after playing
- warming up before sport and gently stretch afterwards
- getting the right treatment for injury before returning to the activity.
In a safe environment, children:
- stay sun safe by wearing sunscreen, hats, sunglasses and sun-protective clothing
- play in areas that are free of hazards like broken equipment, uneven surfaces and sharp rubbish
- avoid staying in cold water for too long when they’re swimming
- are closely supervised around water
- wear clothes that are suited to the environment
- avoid playing outdoors during extreme heat.
It’s important for children to:
- do a variety of activities
- avoid specialising in sport at a young age – for example, by playing different sports each season, rather than only one sport all year
- play sports that are age appropriate and have been modified or designed for children
- practise the skills they need for activities like climbing, balancing and catching.
You can also help children develop skills for staying safe by making sure they understand and can follow the:
- rules of any activity, game or sport they’re playing, including what they need to do to take part
- safety rules for different activities, like never swimming alone in the sea or never riding without a helmet.
Your child is more likely to be safe when they play or do physical activity if they see you and other important people in their lives being safe too. Your child will also learn a lot if you describe what you’re doing and explain how it helps with staying safe and preventing injury.
Emotional injury prevention during physical activity
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. You could talk about the reasons your child doesn’t want to do it and help your child find other activities to try.
- If your child needs help to build skills and confidence, they could try practising with you or a friend at home. Or you and your child could watch other children doing the physical activity before trying it themselves.
- 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.