Now that most fall sports seasons have started, it’s a good time to remind everyone about good sportsmanship. Good sportsmanship isn’t only about what happens on the field — it goes way beyond that. Sportsmanship is also important in everyday life so it’s really important our kids understand what it means to be good sports. It’s also really important as parents, we also lead by example. Our behavior on the field or in the stands is critical in teaching our kids how to behave. The most important thing is that our kids are enjoying the game!
Child Neuropsychologist Dr. Pete Stavinoha says that parents should remember the object is to develop interest and basic skills, not to develop the next Michael Jordan.
Here’s some other advice from Dr. Pete:
-Good Sportsmanship must be modeled at home. Parents need to remind kids that the game is fun to play regardless of whether you win or lose. And a good sport includes learning how to win gracefully.
-If a child demonstrates poor sportsmanship, discipline the child the same way as when a child misbehaves at home. Repeated episodes can be dealt with by “suspension” from the game.
-As kids get older, allow them to choose which sports they wish to play. As the level of competition increases, some children become less interested. Consider replacing a lost activity with a new one.
-For parents, good sportsmanship can be demonstrated at games by showing appreciation for the efforts of both teams. Cheer the effort, not the outcome.
-If a parent is taking the game too seriously, that parent’s spouse or child’s coach may need to step in and say something. Consider practicing a “silent” game in which a parent withholds all comments during the game.
Dr. Pete adds that it’s important to keep perspective in children’s sports and understand that children may place too much emphasis on sports because parents often do.
Thanks Dr. Pete, great advice. Remember sports are meant to be fun. This is a great opportunity to share a common interest with your child. Use it as a teaching experience and not anything more.
Peter L. Stavinoha, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist with specialized training and experience in neuropsychology with children and adolescents. He is board certified in Clinical Neuropsychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology and American Board of Clinical Neuropsychology. Find out more about Dr Pete on his website, www.dfwdrpete.com.