Teaching children sportsmanship

With fall youth sports in full swing, now is a great time to teach your children all about sportsmanship! Brent from The Children’s Workshop gives us the following great advice:

There can be some obstacles when it comes to teaching your child about sportsmanship; after all who likes losing? One of the best times to start explaining sportsmanship to your kids is when they are younger. Many parents feel that sportsmanship is just associated with a field and a ball, when in reality, it can extend to board games at home, any tablet games the kids play together, and activities in the classroom at school.

Some tips for teaching sportsmanship:

  • Be a role model: Children often imitate what they see their parents do; they look up to them and want to be just like them. If they see mom or dad yelling at a coach or a referee at their sibling’s game, they are going to think that is okay behavior. Parents should be an example of positive behavior; handing out high fives to each team, words of encouragement, and congratulating members of both teams on a game well played. Respect that you are a spectator there to support your kids, allow the coach to coach the game and the ref to officiate the game. These are positive behaviors that children will pick up on and hopefully imitate the positives of sportsmanship!
  • Don’t make it all about winning and losing: Sure, trophies are cool and winning them is something that a child should feel proud of, but there are more important things to a game than winning. The skills and strategy of games and the importance of teamwork are the crucial aspects of competitions that each child should know.
  • How to handle negative experiences: There is going to be a time that your child displays bad sportsmanship, or doesn’t know to how to handle a loss. These are the times that are most important for parents to take advantage of as teachable moments. Teach children how to lose gracefully. Here at The Children’s Workshop, we always let kids know that it’s okay to lose and that you can’t win every game you play. We also teach them that you can always try again, no matter what. It is also important to explain to your children the consequences of bad sportsmanship. It might be best to take them out of the game, or support the coach’s decision to remove them from the game. After they calm down a bit, get down on their level, and calmly explain to them what they did and why they had to be taken out of the game or activity.

As parents, it sometimes is hard to not get caught up in the excitement of a game, but it is important to always be aware of how you are modeling your behavior, as your kids will pick up on these. Even when watching your family’s favorite sports team on TV, we can cheer and be excited for them which will teach the kids to be excited about games, but also be aware of how you are responding to the negative aspects of the games. With these tips and the right modeling behavior, any game or activity can be a positive experience for all.

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