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Teach Your Child to Be a Good Sport

Sportsmanship is defined as “conduct and attitude considered as befitting participants in sports, especially fair play, courtesy, striving spirit, and grace in losing”. As many of us have seen from newscasts around the world, there are sadly some parents who display poor sportsmanship.

Most children have a desire to win; regardless of whom they are playing against or what sport they are playing. The desire to win can lead children to behavior that is considered poor sportsmanship, even when we as parents take the part of demonstrating how a good sport behaves. Here are some tips when you find your child in this position to help get him or her on the path to good sportsmanship.

There are a number of parents that allow their children to win at games, although parent’s hearts are in the right place this only teaches children false hope. Which makes them believe they can beat almost anyone at the games they play because they beat their parents. Imagine the embarrassment children will endure when they go to school thinking they are the best chess player in the world because they beat their parents and then get beat by other classmates. Always teach your child the basic concept of games and allow them to learn by getting beat (you can always give them hints or ideas while they are playing you to help them win, just never allow them to win), the more times they lose the better they will learn the game.

Explain to them the length of time you have been playing and how many years you had to practice to get really good at the game. (Mommy has been playing chess for 25 years, I started when I was your age and only really starting getting good after I played for two years, so although you will not be able to beat mommy right now, if you keep practicing you could one day beat me at my own game.)

Exhibit good sportsmanship while watching sport on TV or at a sports outing. You can do this by cheering for your team, but making positive comments about the other team (the guy on the other team sure did make a good run, etc.) This will teach your children that although you are a fan of one team you still respect the other team’s players.

When your child is playing sports or a game and they display good sportsmanship, acknowledge and praise them for that. “That was wonderful how even though you were losing you told your brother good try, that is really good sportsmanship. EBut you should also be sure to address negative behavior, “I know you don’t like to lose, nobody likes to lose, but throwing the bat down or kicking the ground because you missed the hit is not appropriate behavior. Having the privilege of playing sports come with a responsibility to play fair and just have fun. EEncourage your child and all the other players to keep the competition fun and fair for everyone.

Main points to address:

  • Model good Sportsmanship.
  • Acknowledge when your child shows positive attitude while playing games and sports.
  • Encourage fair play and competition by all players.
  • Correct inappropriate behavior.

Grades K-6th
In this age group children will have more opportunities to be involved in school sports, clubs and group activities. This is one of the best times to install good sportsmanship into your child’s life, before it gets out of hand and to a point where the honor of playing sports won’t be an option for them. To eliminate that from happening start out with moderating your child’s behavior closely to see if there is starting to be a problem or you could see one beginning to develop. Watch closely when they are losing or winning at a game and see how their attitude develops for each.

Address the issue right away if you see a problem, by simply explaining how good sportsmanship is not only recognized but it is respected and expected out of each player on every sports team. Support them with encouragement and motivation, while on and off the team. Set a good example for your child while attending their sporting events and respecting the coach’s decisions to play your child or not play your child. If you do encounter a problem with the coach never address that in front of your child, be sure to have a private moment with the coach.

It is also important to accept your child’s ability, if you were a team quarterback throughout your school career don’t expect your child to have the same talent or the same passion for the sport. If they do, that’s great, but never push them into something you want to do. Listen to their wishes and desires before addressing yours to your child.

Main points to address:

  • Take note of your child’s attitude when they are losing and when they are winning, address inappropriate behavior.
  • Support your child with encouragement and motivation.
  • Select appropriate sports/games with their ability in mind.
  • Accept your child’s ability.
  • Be a good listener to their needs.

Resources that can help you in your venture include:

Posted in Character.

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