Teaching Good Sports-Kid-Ship

Boy holding soccer ball

Boy holding soccer ball

Engaging our little ones in sports is part of the fun of having kids. As parents, we get to buy all the gear and coach them as their athleticism develops. Not only are sports exciting for the parents, but sports also teach young children valuable life skills. Goal setting, overcoming adversity, and building character are three essential life skills that children who participate in sports encounter, notes Parenting.org. We want to teach our kids that quitting isn’t the answer and failure is okay. We want our little athletes to gain confidence and feel good about themselves with wins and successes. Striking a balance is significant though — because somewhere among the high fives, pats on the back, cheers and congratulations, your kid may develop a bad attitude and poor sportsmanship.

Practice Taking Turns

Sinking into the bleachers because of embarrassment because it’s your kid who’s throwing a temper tantrum on the field. Sound familiar? Don’t fret. As long as you address the situation now, you haven’t reached a point of no return. The first step is to take responsibility and claim that the child on the soccer team crying is indeed yours. You joke to the parent beside you, “He’s so passionate. He just can’t stand to sit a period out.” It’s not a joke. After explaining to your child why that type of behavior is unacceptable, practice taking turns at home and praise him for it.

Congratulate Other Winners

Play family games at home and manipulate the game so that your child doesn’t win. As much as we love to see her happy face as a champion, she won’t win everything, all the time, in life. Whether you’re playing an Angry Birds board game or tic-tac-toe, make your kid the loser sometimes and congratulate the winner. Follow-up the congratulations by address your kid who lost with, “It’s okay if you don’t win every time. Everyone deserves a chance to win. You will win again.”

Be a Role Model

Practice good sportsmanship yourself. You’re your kid’s hero. Your little brood looks up to you, and your kids mimic your behavior. So while you’re making a dirty face and complaining about another parent in the car ride home from a game or shouting profanities at the coach, your child assumes that behavior is okay to imitate. In the world of parenthood you know that competition is natural. Moms superficially compete over who hosts the most extravagant baby shower with the best baby shower party favors or who has the latest Bugaboo stroller. An awareness about how you handle competitiveness will help prevent your child from adopting similar negative behaviors.

Cheer on Teammates

Encourage your little one to cheer on teammates and forbid trash talking, even about opponents. Make it a point after a practice or game to not only praise your kid for his excellent goal or hit, but to positively talk about his teammates as well. Emphasize that teamwork and support for every teammate leads to wins. Avoid all types of trash-talking — even in good fun, from the field to your living room. Even while playing Wii, create a positive, fun environment where sore losers aren’t allowed and everyone deserves to be a winner.

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