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Girls Can Be Bad Sports, Too

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A college soccer player was just suspended for some seriously rough play. Talk about mean girls!

Dr. Michelle Golland: New Mexico has suspended soccer player Elizabeth Lambert. In a championship game, she threw elbows, took out BYU players at the legs, and finally yanked BYU forward Kassidy Shumway to the ground with a tug to Shumway's ponytail.

With such examples in the news, how do we teach our kids to be better sports than Lambert 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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2 comments so far | Post a comment now
PlumbLucky November 10, 2009, 5:32 AM

I saw one good, albeit perhaps questionable slide tackle, and the rest of it was cheap shots.

Suspended? How about yanking her scholarship? I hope her parents are proud.

tennmom November 10, 2009, 11:21 AM

I agree with yanking her scholarship. If someone had done those things to one of my daughters on the soccer field I doubt I could have kept myself from kicking that person’s butt.
She should never be allowed to play again.

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