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Teaching Your Child to Be a "Good" Sport


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Everyone wants to win but that doesn't always happen. This can be a particularly hard concept for children to understand and even some parents. Children can stomp, cry scream and call others names if they become frustrated over a loss. And sometimes parents can be sore losers as well and act like children. And if parents are sore losers than they have children that follow suit. So the key is to teach your child how to win and lose gracefully by modeling the same behavior yourself.

Be a Good Role Model for Your Child

Your children watch everything you do, so give them something positive to see. Offer praise and encouraging words for all athletes, including your child's opponents. Never berate, tease, or demean any child athlete, coach, or referee while attending a sporting event. Even when attend sporting events or watch sports on TV with your child, refrain from criticizing or condemning athletes’ performances.

Have Your Child Participate in Sports for the Right Reason

Your child should be participating in a sport because they want to. Do not put too much pressure on your child. Do not live out your unfulfilled dreams through your child's life. A child's participation in sports and the importance attached to it should not be driven by a parent's desire to use her child's sports accomplishments for ulterior purposes. Participation in sports should be a fun experience and something that adds to a child's self-esteem not yours.

Don't Let Poor Sportsmanship Behavior Slide

It is up to you to teach your children good sportsmanship. If you observe your child engaged in poor sportsmanship, regardless of whether their coach corrects them or not, you must discuss your child's misbehavior and insensitivity with him after the game. If a coach is ignoring, allowing, or encouraging poor sportsmanship, you need to make your objections known to the coach in a private discussion.

Teach Them Early That They Don't Always Win

It may be tempting to step aside and let your child win when playing a game with them. Don't always let them win at checkers or Go Fish just to make them feel good. Sometimes it's okay if mom or dad wins. If a child expects a positive outcome for every competitive situation, then they won't learn how to handle losing.

Teach Them to Win Gracefully

Make sure that when your child wins they win gracefully. Let them know it is never okay to berate, tease or make fun of the losing team. Being a gracious winner is being a good sport.

Benefits of Participation in Sports

There are many benefits for children who are involved in sports activities. Concentrate on these things and less on whether they win or lose. Benefits for children include:

  • Establishing confidence and promoting strong self-esteem.

  • Learning cooperation and leadership.

  • Using problem-solving skills.

  • Developing tolerance and acceptance for diversity.

  • Appreciating fair play

  • Gaining a healthy sense of competition, which motivates children to do their best.

  • Most importantly, making new friends and having fun while exercising.

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