RadioMD: Healthy Children

Sportsmanship: Act Like an Adult

April 27, 20169 min
Where does your child learn good sportsmanship? From you.Winning and losing can seem like everything to a child. Winners get ice cream, while losers continue to mull over how they failed and let everyone down. Sports outcomes can be pretty black and white to kids. You probably remember the time you nailed it and saved the day. You probably also remember the time you felt terrible and still had to tell the winner, "good game."As you grow older, you usually learn to respect the game, opposition and officials. You discover it's about the love of the game and playing your best. It's not about trash talking the other team, and it's not about ice cream.Why didn't someone mention that when you were a kid? You might have enjoyed the game a little more.Children look to adults for their examples of good sportsmanship. Here's what you can do:

Don't heckle, especially at your child's games.
Discourage your child from trash talking the other team. Without opponents there would be no game.
Support equal playing time. In order to learn game playing skill, everyone needs a chance to play. Kids can't improve if they're always benched.
Teach your child to follow the rules and respect judgment calls. Sometimes officials make errors, such as missing calls or incorrectly calling penalties. That also happens in real life.
Encourage your child to be a good teammate both on and off the field. Being part of a team means supporting other players.
Maintain self control and an even temper. Educate your child on doing the same. Games are no fun when there are tantrums in the stands or on the field.
When watching professional sports with your child, point out good sportsmanship. Many professional sports have exhibition games where players from many teams get to play together, forgetting their team allegiances. Show your child that players may be on different teams but they can still be friends and work with each other.

David Hill, MD, discusses how you can teach your child how to be a good sport.

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