Avoid Raising a Sore Loser With These 7 Tips
Sportsmanship, while rooted in athletics, is a life skill that applies well beyond the perimeter of a soccer field or basketball court. Although you may first approach the topic of sportsmanship before your child's first tee-ball game or gymnastics meet, it's important to teach them what it means to be a good sport in life in general so that they can use those skills throughout the rest of their competitive endeavors.
Read through for seven tips for teaching your kids what it means to be a good sport.
Talk with your child about what sportsmanship means.
Before you can expect your child to understand how to be a good sport, they have to know what it really means. Talk to them about what is "fair" and "right" during a sports game — or even while playing a board game with their friends — and how to behave even when they feel frustrated or when a call was unjust.
Know what your child's coach expects from them.
Find out before the season what your child's coach's expectations are for the kids, parents, and themselves. If they have a code of conduct or rules about sportsmanship — for example, maybe they have a three -trike warning for their players who display bad sportsmanship — be respectful and make sure your child understands and is ready to follow their policies.
Make sure they know that cheating is never acceptable.
Being able to follow the rules in sports (and in life) is an invaluable skill to have. The temptation to cheat is likely something that all children will possess at some point, but by teaching your kids why it's so important for everyone to be fair and obey the rules, no matter how unjust they appear to be, will help them throughout their entire life. Acknowledging and potentially punishing cheating is also important, so that they understand it's unacceptable and that there are consequences.
Let them see you being a good sport.
Whether you're their football coach or you stick to the sidelines, they need to see you practicing sportsmanship. Regardless of winning or losing, show respect to the other team, their coaches, and referees, say "good game" to the other parents and kids or acknowledge a good opposing play, and accept bad calls that involve your child gracefully.
If you or your child does display bad sportsmanship, address and evaluate it.
Maybe you bad-mouthed the coach after they benched your child, or perhaps your kid was a sore loser and refused to shake hands with an opposing player because they scored against them during the game. Any sign or act of bad sportsmanship should be addressed so that you can problem-solve for the future and avoid anyone being a bad sport.
Praise them when they’re a humble loser or graceful winner.
If you see your child losing gracefully and offering respect and congratulations to the other team — praise that. If they win but are still willing to acknowledge how close the game was because the other team was good, or that even though they won this one, there's no reason to gloat or brag — praise that. Both of those types of behavior are great and mean that they're getting more out of the game than just the glory of winning.
Don't lose sight of what's important.
Part of being a good sport is knowing that winning isn't everything. Encourage your child to have fun while they play sports, be wary of too much constructive criticism (you know how much your child can handle before becoming more upset than inspired), and cheer them on whether they scored the winning touchdown or tripped as the clock ran out of time. Sports and games are supposed to be awesome!