Let’s face it, nobody likes to lose a game or feel left out if they aren’t getting as much playing time as they’d like. Children are especially vulnerable to expressing negative emotions because they have not developed the knowledge or maturity to deal with these trials constructively. It is entirely natural and healthy for humans to feel competitive as long as the feelings are dealt with positively.
The good news is that kids can be taught healthy traits and can develop the maturity to deal with these types of emotions.
A first good goal to achieve is teaching our children that they should first play sports to have fun. Remind them that winning or losing does not equate to them being good or bad. Teaching children to lose gracefully will also help them with friendships as well as team sports. No one wants to be around a sore loser, and learning the skills to deal with these emotions early will help them excel farther in life.
That old saying “it’s one percent what happens to you and ninety-nine percent how you react to it” is especially true with sports as well as many other aspects later in life.
Some good emotional coaching on sportsmanship can provide some important lessons that can stick with them for a lifetime. If your child is upset about losing or their progress on the playing field, here are some tips that will help teach them about good sportsmanship:
Most off the field issues or negative feelings can be handled with calm, teachable moments. Redirecting the child and reassuring them about things they do well can help calm them and inject fun thoughts into the conversation. Then they can calmly express what is bothering them and allow for constructive ways to teach aspects of sports that do not always go as children would like.
These are teachable moments that can help mold a child’s conduct into positive behaviors and prepare them to grow their maturity level.
The Penalty Box
Most games have penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct that are designed to change negative behaviors. Establishing a set of rules for outbursts or cheating can teach kids that there are positive and negative effects depending on how they express themselves.
Kids will make mistakes, so each time is a teaching moment to reinforce a positive social behavior.
Things like excessive celebration are the other end of the spectrum. Learning to be graceful winners in sports is just as important as being gracious losers.
Kids need to learn they will not always win or always lose.
There will be times when they are on a strong team where winning comes effortlessly and times when they are on a weak team where winning doesn’t come as easily.
These are all times when we can teach them to continue to strive for personal excellence which means to extend grace no matter the outcome and be a student of the game so that they can contribute their best effort.