How to Teach Your Kids Good Sportsmanship

My children learn from me on a daily basis--what I plan to teach them by reading books and having conversations, and what they pick up by watching me (often, when I don't even think they're paying attention). As we've entered the years of organized sports, it has becoming obvious that my daughters are learning what they know about being good sports from me and their father. What are we teaching them and how are we doing it?

Encourage participation.

My daughters have learned that getting out there and participating is more important to us than winning and losing. How do we show them? We get up and play games and participate in practices when the coaches need an extra hand. We remind them how proud of them we are when they participate, learn, and improve.

Present opportunities to deal with winning and losing.

While there's a time and a place for participation trophies, I want my daughters to learn how to be good winners and losers, too. Gloating doesn't become children, and sore losers spoil the fun for everyone. We've played countless games of Go Fish and Memory, and my daughters have lost as many games as they've won. I demonstrate being a good winner and good loser, and though we might have the occasional bad game, they're learning from me every time we play.

Keep your cool.

Thankfully, my daughters are still young enough that their sporting events haven't been incredibly competitive. I've been on the sideline of games where that isn't the case, and I've seen parents setting a bad example for their kids. Don't argue with the coach, yell at the other team or referees, or otherwise demonstrate to your child that flying off the handle is the way to be.

Find your sport.

It can be hard to be handle losing gracefully when you lose constantly, especially at a young age. Make sure your child find the sport or activity that's a good fit for them. My daughters hated soccer, much to my dismay, but were the most valuable players on their basketball team! Give your child plenty of exposure to different sports and activities so they can find their talents and be an asset to a team!

Have fun!

I'm not the best athlete, and it doesn't stop me from shooting hoops with the kids and laughing at myself when I miss that easy shot. My children are still young, and with any luck, have a lifetime of participating in sports and games ahead of them. If I don't make it fun now, they'll never enjoy it. And what fun is that?

Content by Kelly Herdrich .
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