Youth Sports: Teach Your Child to Compete with Character

An ideal athletic atmosphere is one in which young people’s needs and wants are priority, and not the needs and wants of the coaches and parents. Practices and games are meant to be fun and are experiences in which children will learn valuable life skills. Good sportsmanship and positive behaviors should be displayed by players, coaches, and most importantly parents and family members. Parents, coaches, and children can have a cooperative and positive relationship, modeling good communication skills. No matter what happens on the field, kids must be put first.

What can you do to encourage your child to model positive sportsmanship behaviors?

  • First, model appropriate behavior; it starts with you
  • Feel free to point out examples of poor sportsmanship when you see them
  • Ask your child examples of good sportsmanship (e.g.; helping a player up after they have fallen)
  • Remind your child that winning is not everything (e.g., ask if they had fun)
  • Explain strengths of teamwork
  • Speak with the coach to make sure you are on the same page

Adapted by Cortney Gumbleton from Competing with Character: Let’s Put Sportsmanship and Fun Back in Youth Sports, by Kevin Kush, M.A., with Michael Sterba, M.H.D., Boys Town Press.

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