Sure, your kids may have dreams of being the next sport star - but we bet another big reason they play sports is for plain ol' fun. And research shows that the best way to ensure a good experience for all is to remind your kids to have a positive attitude. Try these ideas to build team spirit:
PLAY BOARD GAMES
Strategy games like checkers, chess, or Monopoly are a good way to practice sportsmanship at home. "They help teach your child things like taking turns, encouraging others, and winning and losing with dignity," says Frank J. Sileo, Ph.D., a psychologist and author of the picture book "Sally Sore Loser." "You can also consider splitting the family into teams before playing. Then the game becomes about learning and helping each other rather than simply winning."
ACT IT OUT
Hanging at the table, waiting for dinner? Suggest some sportsmanship charades. Write down sports scenarios on slips of paper and place them in a bag. (Think: "Your soccer team needs one more goal to tie it up. Your teammate zooms down the field, shoots, and - misses. The other team wins. What do you do?") Have your child choose a scene, then ask her to act out how a good sport would handle it and how a bad sport would. "This is good for parents, too, because you can bolster your skills to deal with a sore loser on the spot," says Sileo.
TALK ABOUT WINNING
A sore winner is a kiddo who boasts in front of teammates or the opposing team, putting himself above others and hurting kids' feelings. If you see this happening, ask your child why he's telling people he's the best, and then help him understand that it's not nice. "Remind your child that sore winners may win the game, but they can lose a friend in the process," says Sileo.