There is much to be gained from sports if your child can have fun and not worry about winning. Of course, everyone wants to win, but truthfully, for your child, it should be all about fun. You will see amazing qualities emerge if playing sport is exciting and enjoyable. For example, improved social skills and teamwork, good emotional and mental health, and higher levels of leadership qualities, academic achievement, and responsibility will result.
However, sportsmanship must be developed for all of this to happen because it blends all these attributes together and more.
What is Sportsmanship?
Sportsmanship is being fair, respectful, and ethical to coaches, referees, competitors, and teammates. The practice of good sportsmanship applied and learned on the field are qualities that transfer and are used in life. The quintessential example of good sportsmanship comes from you Mom or Dad. Your support from the sidelines can send positive or negative signals encouraging good or bad behavior on the field.
Here are seven important ways to be a perfect role model of sportsmanship for your child. Sometimes it is not about what you say but how you look and what you do.
1. It is crucial to be a good sport because your child sees and absorbs everything.
Your child’s feelings of sportsmanship will deepen based on how they perceive your participation. For example, if your child observes you yelling at the referee, quarreling with the coach, or making fun of the opposing team, they will think it is acceptable to do the same. And possibly, turn your youngster into a bully and lose respect for authority.
Youth sports are meant to develop character and leadership skills. So, be sure to support both teams enthusiastically, so your child’s sportsmanship will enhance their abilities.
2. Be mindful of your body language.
You may not be aware, but your child unconsciously picks up your body language and the common gestures you make. For example, how you stand, your body posture, how you move your eyes, shake your head, etc., can show frustration or dissatisfaction. You don’t realize it, but they unconsciously detect it. As a result, your child may feel stress, anxiety, and nervousness.
So, be mindful of your body postures and stances. If you think, say, and do positive things, it will change your body language.
What’s happening in your mind is expressed through your body’s physical appearance. For example, saying positive words, cheering, and smiling, will send different body signals to your child visually. If you think your child made a bad play and you don’t, smile and cross your arms; it shows frustration without saying a word. Just relax and enjoy your child’s game. You will be surprised how much it works!
3. Don’t be hard on your child if they make a mistake.
Mistakes will happen. They are a part of life, and your child will make many of them. Tell your child it is ok. And when off the field or at practice, work on the mistake without them knowing to help them become better. This way, you will not make them self-conscious. It will change them emotionally and mentally for the best.
Mistakes are not signs of weakness; they are signs to help your child grow and become stronger. Accepting and understanding mistakes helps your child’s brain absorb information better, improve faster, and make fewer mistakes in the future. However, if your child fears making mistakes, they will make more of them.
So, there is no need to pinpoint and scream during the game.
4. Make sure you cheer your child’s efforts, not just the best moments, like scoring a goal.
They need to know that playing on a team has a structure, that all plays and players create the goal, not just the scorer. All the effort leading up to the score was essential to score the point. Cheering all their efforts on the field will help them understand teamwork and how a team functions.
5. Have fun.
If your child sees you are having fun, it takes the stress off them, and they can just play and enjoy the game. And will play more freely, not worrying about making a mistake. However, sometimes your child may feel they need to impress you. So let them know that fun is the main objective. Furthermore, when your child is having fun, they will be excited. And excitement stimulates your child’s brain to learn and absorb much more about the game, their skills, sportsmanship, etc.
6. End the game shaking hands.
Even if your child played a challenging game and maybe had an issue with a player or the ref, teach them to let it go. Shaking hands is a perfect way to leave the field in peace. It is a sign of respect, and what happened is over. If you cast threats, anger, and frustration, it will negatively impact your child’s performance. Most importantly, make sure you thank the coach and referee after the game with your child.
7. Practice self-control.
Games can get heated. Sometimes the calls don’t go the correct way. Sometimes the referee misses a foul. You need to control your emotions during the game. If you can remain cool, calm, and collective, it will help your child do the same. And if they can remain calm, they will maintain good performance. Your self-control will help your child stay focused in the game and not worried about how the referee missed the foul.
Remember, your child is learning. If you make playing sports fun for them, it will bring incredible value to their lives. So, positively support them and avoid negativity.
For more articles on how parents can improve sportsmanship, CLICK HERE!