4 Steps to Teaching Your Child Respect for Opponents
Does your child have respect for opponents when he plays youth sports?
Perhaps you see way too much disdain, badmouthing, and disrespect in youth sports as your child competes.
When I watched the Olympics, I saw competitive respect exemplified in the lives of many Olympic athletes. I often saw athletes congratulating opponents even after they themselves had lost the event. I remember one scene when extreme sportsman Shaun White lost the event, but hugged and congratulated the guy who won the gold and beat him out, keeping him off the medal stand.
I imagine that years of competition against each other nurtures mutual respect between these athletes, but I love seeing this attitude in all athletes. This is so important to teach to your kids! Here’s a few steps you can take to help instill this respect.
Respect For Opponents: Step 1
You won’t be surprised to hear me say that it starts with you. Don’t speak negatively of opposing players. Plain and simple.
Respect for Opponents: Step 2
Take refusal to badmouth a step further and follow up with positive comments about opponents. Acknowledge good plays, skill and athleticism when it is exemplified, no matter whose side it is on.
Respect for Opponents: Step 3
Despite your positive example and influence, your child will still feel anger and frustration against some opponents. Don’t join in on those rants. Listen first, then help your child turn his focus back to his own performance or skill, not on his opponent.
Respect for Opponents: Step 4
You know that “good game, good game” tradition that teams do after each competition? I’m guessing most athletes don’t think twice about what they are doing. This is a perfect opportunity for a discussion with your child about what that tradition really means. Remind your young athlete that these shouldn’t be meaningless words, but true acknowledgements of a job well done.
You can set an example in this too by congratulating good opponents on their good play when it applies. It always meant a lot to my kids when opposing parents and coaches said something complementary or encouraging to them after games.
As your child grows and learns about hard work, he will be more likely to respect formidable opponents because he appreciates their hard work and dedication to the sport. Nurture that mutual respect; it’s a great part of competition.