Monday, July 12, 2010

how to teach kids about good sportsmanship

Team sports are a great way of showing kids self control and working together! Before a game, remind kids on the goals of good sportsmanship. Team sports can make very effective social skills activities for older kid, especially if you explicitly teach them how to be good sports.

Principles of Good Sportsmanship:
* Be a good winner (not bragging and taunting the losers; providing supportive feedback to the losers)
* Be a good loser (congratulating the winner; not blaming others for the loss)
* Show respect to other team mates, players and to the referee
* Show encouragement and offer help to other players who may be not be as skilled as you
* Work out your conflicts without trying to involve the teacher

Brainstorm during practice with kids the ways they can support one another and apply these principles. During a game, give kids the chance to put these principles into action before you intervene in conflicts. Encourage and applaud good sportsmanship. If they don’t sort things out themselves after a couple of minutes, you can always assist. And when the game is over, give kids feedback on their good sportsmanship.
Does this approach work? It very well could! In an experimental study of urban American elementary school students, some kids got the treatment described above. Kids were briefed on good sportsmanship at the beginning of every gym class. And, after every game, teachers gave each team a score reflecting its overall good sportsmanship. What came of it was compared to kids attending regular gym classes, the kids who received explicit training in good sportsmanship showed greater leadership capabilities and conflict resolution skills. And the lessons appeared to have spilled over into regular life, because the kids also showed similar improvements in the classroom (Sharpe et al 1995). All together we're better!

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Theresa Milstein said...

I like the idea of talking to the children beforehand.

When my children watch sports, I always point out the kind behavior between players, like helping one another up and shaking hands with players on the other team or even hugging at the end of the game.

Barbra Stephens said...

That's a great idea. Kids notice things like this. When someone they love and care about points out these attributes it really makes them think about it.