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Teaching sportsmanship to young children

Question:

How do I teach my 4-year-old son that he can’t win all the time?

Answer:

This information is included in our Guide to Youth Sports. Click here to see the rest of the guide.

You will need to teach good sportsmanship. At your son’s age, he will find himself in competitive situations. Tell him when he is the winner. The other person could say “Congratulations!” and “Nice job!” and give him a high-five. When the other person is the winner, it is your son’s turn to say “Congratulations!” and give the high-five. This is an example of being a good sport.

Keep the teaching simple. Give him a “kid reason” why being a good sport is important. For instance, others will want to play with him if he is a good sport.  They won’t if he is not. If he is on a sports team, the coach will want him to play more often if your son is a good sport. Bad sports sit on the bench more often.  

Then have him practice his new skill using pretend situations in which your son can demonstrate how he can be a good sport. If you play a game of cards and win, your son needs to say, “Good game. Congratulations!” If he scores a goal while playing soccer with you in the backyard, tell him, “Nice shot!” Have him do the same when you score a goal. The more you practice, the more likely he will implement his new skill with his peers.

 

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