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How to Teach Your Child to Be a Good Sport

Children learn about good sportsmanship by watching the adults around them. Many children become upset about their individual performances, as well as their team’s performance. However, if they see adults emulating good sportsmanship they will learn how to deal with their inner frustrations and become a good sport, themselves.

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Teach children to shake hands with the opposing team before and after a game. Children should shake hands with the opposing team after a win and a loss. Parents and coaches can demonstrate good sportsmanship by being friendly to the opposing team. If a child looses a game, they should hold his or her head high with dignity and congratulate the winning team. Teach children that the event they are participating in is not a reflection of who they are as people.

Many children forget to have fun when they are playing their sport, debating on a team, or performing in a competition. Children can easily become their own worst critic and be hard on themselves. It is important that children do not feel pressured to perform. Their moves should not be second guessed or berated by their parents. Children should be taught that they are winners whether they come in first or last.

It is easy for a child to display unsportsmanlike conduct if they are confronted with an opponent, teammate or an adult who is doing so. While a child may slip and say harsh things to an opponent in retaliation, it should be strongly discouraged.

Tips for parents who want to foster good sportsmanship in their child.

  • Remember that your child is always watching you. If he or she sees you being unkind or yelling inappropriate remarks during a game, he or she will be inclined to do so, too.
  • Do not play favorites with the children on your child’s team or let your child see that you think one child is a better player than another.
  • Do not yell or argue at the umpire or coach.
  • Do not put too much pressure on your child. Do not live out your unfulfilled dreams through your child’s life.
  • Keep all comments about your child’s performance positive.
  • Discuss any concerns you may have about your child’s team privately with the coach or officials.
  • When the game is over, do not focus on who won or lost.

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