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Teaching Kids to Be Good Sports

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Here's how to teach your kids to lose gracefully.

Dr. Michelle Golland: It was the sucker punch heard around the world. University of Oregon football player LeGarrette Blount hit Boise State player Byron Hout last week after their game.

With such examples in the news, how do we teach our kids to be better sports than Blount was?

Teaching our children good sportsmanship is key to their emotional connections with peers. Social and emotional skills are an essential part of navigating school, from preschool and beyond. Being a good sport is not just about never cheating or never trash-talking the other team; it is truly about self-esteem and learning from adversity. Even if your score is not the highest, you can still be a winner.

Want to win but don't hate to lose: Teach your kids that it is healthy to desire to win, but that all athletes have to learn to lose too. Teach them to accept defeat with grace and dignity. It is great to win, and of course it feels good, but glow about your efforts, don't gloat.

Be your child's role model: Offer praise for your child and encourage all the other kids too, including the opponents. Never berate, tease, or demean any child athlete or referee in front of your child.

Check out your own agenda about sports: Your child's desire to play sports should come from them, not you. If you have some vision of being the coach but your kid doesn't really enjoy it, you may need to reconsider the activities your child really wants to experience.

Family game night: Use game nights to instill the fun and joy of game playing, whether you win or lose. Board games, chess, or Wii are quick tools that can help develop the "good sport" muscle in your kids.

Focus on efforts, not mistakes: Be proud of them for trying their best. Mistakes will happen and games will be lost. Teach your kids to offer praise to the losing team or opponent by shaking the other team's hand or saying "great game" or "that was a good try."

The goal of good sportsmanship is teaching our children the values of a positive attitude, respect for others, leadership, and empathy.

How do you teach your kids to be good sports? Comment below.

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3 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous September 9, 2009, 9:21 AM

An angry black man

dmr September 9, 2009, 9:43 AM

Byron Hout is not the innocent victim here. Do a little research on the story, there is 2 people involved, and Hout did not get disciplined at all. Not condoning what Blount did, but his punishment is harsh.

Melissalynn September 9, 2009, 10:07 AM

If Hout should be punished for talking trash then Blount should have been suspended before the game even happened since he was using the media to talk trash before the game. Just because Blount reacted inappropriately doesn’t mean Hout should be suspended. Everyone says that Hout was “asking for it.” In my opinion Blount should have expected a few snide comments after his immature comment he made to the press.

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