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Weston Dear Kristin, Sportsmanship

Dear Kristin,

I have children who play a variety of sports, and have seen some really negative examples of parent behavior. It seems like the kids are a better example of sportsmanship than some of the adults! What are some tips for parents when it comes to youth sports?

Answer: Thank you for your question! I have listed below some tips for parents that can be helpful when it comes to these issues. Some of the following information comes from

1. Be a good role model for your children. Children learn by example—show 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 don't 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 children's game. Some parents tend to live vicariously through their children's sports success. A parent must stay focused on their child's 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," whether 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 officials. Let them do their job, and you do yours, which is to support and encourage your child to have fun and do his best.

8. Teach your child how to take personal responsibility for situations. If your child made a bad play, so what? Don't 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. Don't 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 adult's 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 he is 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 person's behavior directly affects the way other's view the person's character.

Kristin Ferrara is the director of Weston Youth Services. Do you have a question for Kristin? Ask it here .

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