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Tips for Teaching a Balance Between Sportsmanship and Winning

As parents with children playing sports, it’s easy for us to get swept up in the excitement of the action. We love our kids. We want them to be happy. Winning makes them happier than losing. So we naturally want our kids to win. But of course, they can’t win all the time; life is not like that. So teaching kids how to handle losing – and how to be a good sport along the way, regardless of the final score – will give them skills they’ll use well beyond the playing field. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Your children are always watching you. Make sure you set a good example by showing good sportsmanship at their games, while watching sports on TV, or when attending other sporting events.
  • Whether your child wins or loses a game, make sure you point out anything positive he or she did (e.g., shook hands with the other team or told someone “Good game!”).
  • Use situations where someone is showing poor sportsmanship to discuss with your child why good sportsmanship is so important.
  • Role-play situations where someone is bragging about their athletic abilities so your child can practice how he or she would respond.
  • Make it a point to focus on your child’s effort in anything he or she does rather than just the final result.