Nothing evokes the feelings of great joy and pride quite like watching your child play and have a great time with his or her teammates. Nothing can squash that feeling faster than the obnoxiously loud voice of a screaming parent, yelling at the coach or, worse yet, at one or more of those children. Kids learn by example, and if there are incidents of poor sportsmanship among the spectators, that often times will reflect in their behavior as well. According to Yahoo Sports’ “The Post Game,” an informal survey of college athletes was polled on their worst memory from playing youth and high school sports. The majority said, “The ride home from games with my parents.” The one phrase parents said that amplified their child’s joy of the sport? “I love to watch you play.”

So what is the best way to instill the value of sportsmanship in your child? First of all, be a good example. also advocates that if you see a display of poor sportsmanship in your child, nip it in the bud immediately. You are ultimately responsible for teaching your child, so find those teachable moments while watching sporting events. also offers these suggestions:

  • Encourage your child to adopt the attitude that playing the game is for fun. Winning is not the most important thing, and they should always encourage teammates.
  • Tell your child not to cheer when the other team makes a bad play.
  • Adopt the rule that your child never argue with the umpire, referee, or coach.
  • As a parent, don’t yell and attempt to coach from the sidelines.
  • Whether the team wins or loses, always find something positive about the game.

The hand-slaps and “Good game!” among the competitors at the end of the game is also highly important. Coaches and parents should emphasize that skipping this step or attempting it halfheartedly, no matter how you perform in the game, is a big display of poor sportsmanship. It reflects poorly on the child, the coach, the parents, and the entire team.

As a parent, relax and have fun! Enjoy watching your children play. They grow up way too quickly!

What have you taught your child that has really helped develop him/her into a good sport?

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