How to Teach Your Child Athlete to Be a Good Sport

There’s nothing more painful than watching your eight-year-old storm off the soccer field after a losing game. Most parents want their children to be involved in athletics because it’s good for their overall health. It promotes their physical wellbeing, teaches them important life skills, and allows them to make new friends. However, what do you do if your child isn’t a good sport about the game?

Close to 65 percent of adults agree that sportsmanship is worse now than it has been in the past. Children are more concerned with receiving praise for scoring the winning goal than they are with having a good time on the field. Combatting these negative attitudes can be an uphill battle for concerned parents.

If you’re concerned about your child’s sportsmanship, try teaching them a few of these concepts before their next big game.

Encourage them to try their hardest.

Telling kids to do their best has been always been a part of children’s sports practices and competitions. You want to encourage your child to give their very best effort at everything they do. Explain to them that winning isn’t really important if you know that you did your absolute best.

Part of inspiring your child to give their best effort at a game is acknowledging the things they’re doing well. Even if they don’t have perfect form, give them a high five for their hustle or their attentiveness to a teammate. Showing them what’s truly important during the game may inspire them to do the same to encourage their friends.

Don’t discuss difficulties on the field.

If your child still storms off after the game, that probably isn’t the best time to discuss what went wrong. Give your child some space to calm down first, even if it means putting them in your car for a few minutes. You can have a better conversation when your child isn’t agitated by losing the game.

Once they’re calm, make sure you address their inappropriate behavior and poor sportsmanship. You can brainstorm better ways for your child to handle their frustration in the future. Remind them of the importance of telling the other team they did a great job and encouraging their own team with the things they excelled at.

Find good examples for your child.

It isn’t enough to simply explain what good sportsmanship should look like. Children often learn best by imitating behavior they see in others. Take a look at professional athletes who play the sports that interest your child. You should be searching for a role model who always has excellent sportsmanship. Giving them someone to look up to may be able to change their attitude toward winning and losing.

Allow them to watch this athlete perform on a regular basis and discuss the way they handle themselves during and after the game. Is there a major difference between this athlete’s behavior and your child’s? Help them to spot the differences and brainstorm ways they may be able to have better sportsmanship in the future.

Helping your child to be a better sport can be essential for allowing them to develop a true love for the game. They’ll have an easier time participating in these activities, as well as making friends. Sportsmanship can carry over into all areas of their life, so make sure you’re investing plenty of time to teach your child this important life lesson.

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