Our kids tend to struggle with dealing with life’s frustrations, and that shows up often in competitive environments.
So how do you help your kid become a good sport?
First, kids are more likely to be good sports when their parents model it consistently and routinely. For example, when we…
- encourage others for their success
- cheer on a rival team when they make a particularly good play
- don’t make excuses when we lose
- speak respectfully when someone else wins a tournament or gets the job we wanted
- lose AND win gracefully
- comment on good sportsmanship in others
- allow the fun of any competition to be as important as winning…
These are subtle ways to teach kids how to be good sports. It starts with our own behavior as parents.
More actively, you can also have conscious conversations with kids to raise their awareness to sportsmanlike conduct.
a) Point out good sportsmanlike conduct anytime you see it, both for winning and for losing.
b) Set an expectation before they enter into any kind of competition that they may win, or they may lose. Remind them of this before an event starts. Debunk the myth that anyone EVER wins all the time.
c) Encourage siblings to route for each other and try not to foster a competitive environment among the family. If it is a competitive family, it’s a great place to practice keeping it friendly and supportive.
d) Encourage kids to compete with themselves rather than with others (focus on improving stamina or excellence).
e) Teach them to win with grace.