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Playing sports is all fun and games until you see your child either upset they didn’t win or bragging that they did win. There’s a fine line between being proud and boasting. Raising a good sport can help on both sides, whether they win or lose.
Here are 10 tips to help you raise a child that wins, and loses, gracefully.
1. Explain. Talk to them about sportsmanship and what it means in terms they can understand. Explain that in sports you still have to live by the “golden rule” and you should treat others how you would like to be treated.
2. Be a role model. As you are watching the games on the sidelines, be positive and encouraging. Cheer on successes and efforts. Give high fives and congratulate both teams for a well played game.
3. Respect the coach. It’s easy to get carried away if you don’t feel your child is being treated fairly, but trust that the coach has a plan and it doing the right thing. Allow the coach to coach his team. This will teach your child to respect authority.
4. Don’t compare. It is easy to compare what one child does to another. Each child is different and has different strengths and weaknesses. Instead of comparing Jimmy to Nick, compare how Jimmy is hitting now compared to the beginning of the season. Focus on the improvements of the actual individual.
5. It doesn’t matter if you win or lose. Winning is always fun, but try to focus on learning the game and improvements on how well they play as opposed to if they won the most games this season.
6. Celebrate as a team. Sure your child may be happy he ran in a touchdown, but that doesn’t mean he should boast about it in the end zone. Teach them to keep celebrations low-key and celebrate with the entire team instead of singling themselves out.
7. Lose gracefully. You win some, you lose some. Yes, it hurts to lose a game, but teach them to congratulate the other team on a game well played instead of being upset and storming off the field.
8. Give consequences. If your child portrays poor sportsmanship, give a consequence. The best consequence for bad behavior before/during/after a game is not allow them to play the game.
9. Ensure your child attends all practices. Maybe your daughter is the star pitcher and doesn’t think she needs practice. Maybe your son runs faster than everyone on his team so he doesn’t want to waste his time at practice. Ensure that your child understands that his or her absence will affect the entire time and they have made a commitment to the team.
10. You and your child are different people. Maybe you were the head cheerleader or quarterback of the football team. That doesn’t mean your child will possess the same skills. Don’t put pressure on your child, allow them to have fun and play the sport for the fun of it.