PLAY FAIR… ALWAYS!
Remember the saying, “Actions speak louder than words”? That’s especially true when it comes to teaching kids the basics of good sportsmanship. Your behaviour during practices and games will influence them more than any pep talk or lecture you give them. Here are some suggestions on how to build sportsmanship in your child:
- Unless you’re coaching your child’s team, you need to remember that you’re the parent. Only shout words of encouragement, not directions, from the sidelines (there is a difference!).
- If you are your kid’s coach, don’t expect too much out of your own child. Don’t be harder on him or her than on anyone else in the team, but don’t play favourites either.
- Keep your comments positive. Don’t bad-mouth coaches, players, or other officials. If you have a serious concern about the way that games or practices are being conducted, or if you’re upset about other parents’ behaviour, discuss it privately with your child’s coach or with a league official.
- When you’re talking to your child after a competition, it’s important not to dwell on who won or lost. Instead, you might ask your child, “How did you feel you did during the game?” If your child mentions that he or she didn’t do well at a particular skill, like shooting or passing, offer to work on these skills with your child before the next game.
- Applaud good play no matter who does it.
- Set a good example with your courteous behaviour toward the parents of kids on the other team. Congratulate them when their kids win.
- Remember that it’s your child, not you, who is playing. Don’t push your child into a sport because it’s what you enjoyed. As your child gets older, let your child choose the sport he or she wants to play, and let him or her decide the level of commitment they want to make to it.
- Keep your perspective. It’s just a game. Even if your child’s team loses every game of the season it’s unlikely to ruin his or her life or chances of success.
- Look for examples of good sportsmanship in professional athletes and point them out to your kid. Talk about the bad examples, too, and why they upset you.
- Finally, don’t forget to have fun! Even if your child isn’t the star, enjoy the game while you’re thinking of all the benefits your child is gaining - new skills, new friends, and positive attitudes that can help him or her all through life.