Opportunities for participating in organized sports for young children are everywhere. It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of a game and put winning above other benefits However, these other benefits are likely more important that the score of a soccer game between two teams of seven year olds. For example, whether the team wins or loses, children can learn about about teamwork and good sportsmanship with every game. Kids who do not play to their expectations – or parents who are particularly critical of their child’s performance – can easily forget this. Kids learn the basics of sportsmanship from the adults in their lives – parents, coaches, teachers…From these figures they hopefully learn that in friendly games, winning is second to fun, and that there is a particular finesse to handling a loss. Organized sports are crucial in teaching your child how not to be a “sore loser.”
It can be tough losing a close or important game and knowing that the right thing to do is congratulate the opposing team teaches sportsmanship and that one does not “win” every time. Moments like these may present themselves in years to come, and likely not in sports-related situations. Knowing how to handle them will be important–and knowing that if things don’t go well, one can try better going forward will also be important. Young sports bullies are likely to behave the same in the classroom or in social situations, while a child with good sportsmanship will carry that respect into other situations.
How can you help? As your child progresses into more competitive leagues, it will be easy for them to forget that it is not all about the win. They forget to have fun. They need constant reminders and good examples, or they may forget what behavior is appropriate before, during, and after a sporting event. It is important for you to see winning as just one of the several goals you’d like your child to reach. While it is important for your young athlete to take pride in his or her accomplishments and to improve their own sports skills, good sportsmanship is another quality that can be honed by kids’ sports.