Children learn what they see modeled before them. When it comes to being a good sport, are you demonstrating how to be one? You may not have thought about how to teach your child to be a good sport, but it may be something to consider – especially if you think they’ll want to play organized sports.
Sportsmanship can be defined as the way you conduct yourself suitably to all participants in sports. Included in this idea is playing fair, striving to do one’s best, and losing gracefully. If these are qualities parents want their children to display, why is it there have been newscasts from around the world of parents acting just the opposite?
Your children may wonder why good sportsmanship is important. You may be wondering how to instill good sportsmanship in your children from an early age so it will be evident as they get older and need it.
Most children instinctively want to win and considered to be the best at everything. Unfortunately, the desire to win may cause some children to display poor sportsmanship rather than good. You might want to use some of these tips to help your child learn how to be a good sport.
When children are preschoolers their parents may have a tendency to let their children win. Although this is usually done from a parent’s love for the child, it can give them the impression that they can win at any game because they won against their parents. The better choice might be to teach your child how to play a game and then “let the chips fall as they may.” They might actually learn more about the game, and being a good sport, by losing at an early age.
If they complain and whine about not winning, let them know how much practice it took for you to become good at the game. You could also offer to play with them whenever they like, as long as you’re not in the middle of something else, so they can get better at the game and possibly beat you in the future.
Model good sportsmanship while watching sports on TV or in person. Cheer for your team, of course, but make positive comments about the opposing team. Say something about the good defense or how well the team works together. This teaches your child to enjoy the game, be a fan of one team, but respect the players on the other team.
Encourage your child and praise them when they show good sportsmanship, no matter what the game. If they’re not quite the good sport, acknowledge and address the negative behavior. Good sports play fair and follow the rules. Children need to understand the difference between being a good sport or a bad sport; your praise for positive behavior will reinforce that knowledge and entice them to choose the higher ground.
As a parent, you want your children to play fair. When you teach your child to be a good sport, remember they learn a great deal by watching you. If you’re a good sport, your children will be more likely to follow suit.