15August

Good Sportsmanship: Modeling the Olympic Spirit for Our Kids

Good Sportsmanship: Modeling the Olympic Spirit for Our Kids


As we reflect on the 2012 Olympic Games we will always remember the extraordinary events, and the athleticism displayed in each sport.What will also stay in our memories is seeing opponents from around the worldwarmly embrace each other, despite their individual outcome A heartwarming example was seen when two track competitors from different countries switched jerseys after a race, leaving each other sporting the opposing country’s jersey, even though only one of them had just won a gold medal. These competitors have become accustomed to competitions,and perhaps being a good sport comes as second nature to them. They are excellent representations of sportsmanship for our kids, but how can we set an example?

Easy ways to teach your child how to be a good sport:

  • Be a Good Role Model: Offer compliments to all players, not just those on your child’s team, and keep negative comments, criticism of players, coaches, and referees to yourself. This also applies to when you are watching sports on TV, or attending other sporting events your child is not participating in.
  • Be Assertive: If you see or hear your child engaging in un-sportsman-like behavior, talk to them about it. Or, if you see or hear your child’s coach ignoring, allowing, or participating in bad sportsmanship, have a private discussion about your concerns with the coach.
  • Use Examples as a Learning Experience: When you see good AND bad sportsmanship on TV, or during your child’s competition, talk to them about what happened and ask your child open-ended questions to gauge how they feel and start a discussion. For example, “What did you think about the referee ejecting that player after he shoved his opponent?” or “Wow, how about that player helping up his injured opponent?”

It can be challenging to help kids deal with losses and frustrations that come with competitions. But, through modeling and discussions children can come to understand that the emphasis is not necessarily on winning, but on the performance instead.

Tell us: What are ways you model and encourage good sportsmanship?

Written by Ashley Semerenko, Posted in Child & Adolescent Services

About the Author

Ashley Semerenko

Ashley Semerenko

Ashley joined The Ben Massell Dental Clinic as the Social Services Program Manager in July of 2013.  Prior to that in May 2012, Ashley began working for JF&CS as an intern as part of her Master of Social Work degree from Loyola University in Chicago.  During that time she worked with the Tools for Families providing counseling services and with the Tools for Aging programs as a case manager to family caregivers.  Upon completing her MSW, Ashley was offered the position of a case manager with the Caregiver Crisis Support and Care Planning program of the Aviv Older Adult Services and also was able to continue seeing counseling clients with Tools for Families.