Teaching Kids Sportsmanship

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Even when a child loses a game, sportsmanship can teach them to appreciate their contribution to the game. If a child feels they need to work on something, this is the time to offer encouragement and the chance to practice any skills that may need some work.

Simple Ways for Children to Demonstrate Sportsmanship

Sportsmanship can be demonstrated in simple, small ways such as shaking hands with an opposing team both before and after a game. Offering a word of congratulations also goes a long way.

Sportsmanship can also be demonstrated in deeper ways that affect an individual's character. Being able to gracefully accept a bad call or the loss of a game are some of the ways that character is formed. When a child can learn to balance the more challenging aspects of sports along with the enjoyable parts of the game, they learn to keep things in proper perspective.

How Parents Can Lead by Example

Parents can demonstrate sportsmanship through their behavior on the sidelines. If a parent is not the coach, they should not be shouting instructions. Leave that to the actual coach. Parents should also not be shouting out unkind or critical words, especially directed at other children playing the game. This is the time to be encouraging, no matter what the situation. No win is worth degrading a child.

Parents who are coaches have to be especially careful that they are not demonstrating favoritism or putting too much pressure on their child. Children whose parents are coaches need to be treated the same as any other child on the team.