Kids enjoy sports and can learn a lot from them, including the four “ships” —friendship, citizenship, sportsmanship and leadership.

When children play sports, they have a “golden opportunity” to develop a positive self-image. But, this won’t happen if parents don’t do their part. Here are some ideas to help build your child’s self-esteem on and off the playing field:

  • Keep it positive. When you find something to criticize, find four other things to praise.
  • Instill humor. Help kids laugh at their mistakes.
  • Develop team spirit. Help your child think “we,” not “me.”
  • Step into your child’s shoes. See the sport through his eyes. Listen and understand his feelings and wants.
  • Involve yourself. Volunteer. Ask your child questions. Help her practice at home.
  • Notice any and all progress—in both skill and effort.
  • Show excitement. Praise enthusiastically in public.
  • Praise specifics. Don’t say: “Mary, you’re a good sport.” Say: “I liked the way you shook hands after the game.”
  • Offer a good example. Be a good sport yourself.
  • Remember to have fun. Fun—not winning—is what’s most important to children.
  • Set reasonable expectations. Don’t underestimate what your child can do, or pressure him to do what he can’t.

Copyright © Parent Institute