After all the build-up, the outcome of the Suns-Bucks NBA Championship series is tough to swallow but this is also a big teaching moment for kids about good sportsmanship.
Childhood development experts from the Arizona Children’s Association remind parents that kids are watching and mimicking their every move and how adults process this loss can teach kids not to be sore losers.
First, when it comes to losing, parents should not make any judgment.
Dr. Ramiz Audi, director of the ACA, says parents should instead reinforce that the child did their best and still has the skill set to do well.
Next, he assures that’s it’s OK to have an emotional response -- whether that’s crying it out, yelling, or withdrawing -- but no putting themselves, their teammates, or opponents down.
Dr. Audi also says it’s important to give kids time to recover from those feelings, which might be a few hours or a few days.
Once they’ve settled, help them talk about the game and move forward by identifying what can be done differently next time.
“How we can improve our technique or our thought process about the game, learning new strategies. So these are the moments that can make us stronger,” said Dr. Audi.
Good sportsmanship applies to winning as much as losing so Dr. Audi advises even when we win, we should help kids identify something positive about the losing team, like a player who hustled. Or, be empathetic and acknowledge that they just had a bad game. Then, acknowledge that even when we win, there’s always room to improve because he says perfection carries too much pressure.
“It’s a word that’s not realistic, so there’s always room for improvement and that’s what we want to teach the kids, that’s what we want to teach athletes, that there’s always room to improve no matter how well you did.”
Finally, help your kids understand the difference between being gracious and gloating as that’s the very definition of sportsmanship.