11 Sportsmanship Tips for Parents
Good sportsmanship starts with good parenting both on and off the field.

Weíve all read about it in the paperóthe over zealous father who threw a chair at a basketball coach for not "playing his son" or the over zealous mother who publicly humiliated her daughter for not playing "aggressively enough" on the tennis court. For many, the ultimate goal is to win, but there is a cost associated with poor sportsmanship and, as a parent, it is our responsibility to raise a strong child and a good sport. Here are 11 ways you and your spouse can become a better team when it comes to coaching your child.

Good Sportsmanship Tips:

1. Be a good role model for your children. Children learn by exampleóshow them how to practice good sportsmanship by not always expecting to win. Explain that winning is not always an option, but it is always appropriate to be a good sport. Demonstrating a good attitude, team spirit and respect for others is as important as the outcome of the game.

2. Good sportsmanship is a clear quality of good character. Teach your children how to interact with their elders, coaches and peers by having a positive attitude, one that shows respect for all involved in the game. Remind your child to shake hands at the end of each game with his or her opponent, and donít forget to say "good game." This step teaches self-confidence and is an exercise that will stay with them as they grow and develop.

3. Keep your own ego out of your childrenís game. Some parents tend to live vicariously through their childrenís sports success. A parent must stay focused on their childís interests and abilities and get over their own high school insecurity.

4. Emphasize other aspects of the game such as friendship, skill, exercise and relationship building. These are major factors that contribute to a successful athletic experience.

5. Talk to other parents about your feelings regarding good sportsmanship. Make a request, or even a pact, that the parents show respect for the coach, referee and all teammates including the opposing team.

6. Acknowledge and praise all of your own team members and members of the opposite team. Good sports are "good sports" regardless of whether or not they win or lose.

7. Mind your own sideline behavior. Do not try to coach the coach, your child or other members of the team during the game. Regardless of how bad the call, refrain from yelling or shouting profanities at the official. Let them do their job, and you do yours, which is to support and encourage your child to have fun and do their best.

8. Teach your child how to take personal responsibility for situations. If your child made a bad play, so what? Donít try to blame the play on someone else to prevent your child from having a hurt ego. Explain that experience comes from learning from our mistakes. Donít point fingers or pass blame on to someone else or, worse yet, encourage your child to do the same.

9. Good sportsmanship involves sharing. Even if your child made the winning basket, teach him to share his success as a team member. Just like an adultís success at the office takes a support team of professionals, remind your child that it takes teamwork to win a game. Even if your child made the winning basket, the team as a whole should be included in the glory.

10. Use the language of a good sport. Talk to your child about the importance of character, integrity, humility and respect. Your child will identify with these words if they are seeing it modeled on the sideline.

11. Turn to the news for both good and bad examples of good sportsmanship. Discuss local and national stories with your child and use these stories as examples of good versus bad sportsmanship and point out how a personís behavior directly affects the way otherís view the personís character.

My own daughterís soccer coach implemented a "Noise Free Game," which only allowed clapping from the sidelines. A great thing happened. Parents started clapping for each otherís team and the sound of laughter and encouragement could be heard by the girls on the field. Good sportsmanship is a team effort, which includes everyone, parents, coaches and players.

Diane Gottsman, a nationally recognized etiquette expert, is the owner of The Protocol School of Texas, a company specializing in etiquette training for corporations, universities and individuals, striving to polish their interpersonal skills. You can reach Diane at 877-490-1077 or You can also follow her on Twitter @:

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