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Are You THAT Parent?

We have all seen them, the bad sports parent. You know the one I am talking about: the mom or dad who gets so caught up in winning (or losing) and on how well their child is performing that they forget the most important part of competing… being a good sport.  THAT parent who constantly yells out commands to their kid, “Stop kicking the dirt. Pay attention Johnny, look alive! Put your hat back on. What are you doing out there?’ Or maybe THAT parent the one who blames everyone else if his child messes up; “Are you kidding me ref do you need glasses? That was a foul!!!”  Then there is the worse of them all; THAT parent, the one who shouts insults and passive aggressive comments at the players of the other team, saying things like, “my grandmother can bat better than that!”

Most likely you are not the one who is yelling at the umpire or calling the opposing team’s pitcher a few choice words, but, you still could be THAT parent. “Not me!” you may be thinking, I would never be THAT parent. I respect the coaches and the referee’s decisions and I always encourage my kid to do the same. Or do you?

couchpotatoIts Sunday afternoon football and you have been waiting all week for this game. You are sitting back relaxing in your easy chair when your team’s quarterback throws the ball that is intercepted and the opposing team runs it all the way for a touchdown. But wait there was flag thrown. You are positive it will be called on the other team and therefore the touchdown will not count, but nope it is against your team and the 6 points stays which just so happens to mean your team loses the game. You are angry and you let that referee on that little screen know exactly what you think of the bad call. Voicing your disappointment makes you feel, well better. No harm, right? WRONG! Because while you are ranting, and blaming and basically throwing a small fit… little Johnny could be watching. And since children learn the fundamentals of sportsmanship from the grownups around them, it can still affect the kind of sport they will be.

Remember that old saying, “Actions speak louder than words”? Well it is particularly true when it comes to teaching our kids the basics of good sportsmanship. The behavior we have during practices, games, while sitting in the stands or in our own living room watching a game on TV matters more than any lecture or pep talk you can give them. So the next time you want to talk back to the TV set and complain about a foul ball, a missed pass or even your candidate who lost the senate race… think about who is around watching and how you would want them to act, and then act that way yourself. After all, you don’t want to be known as THAT parent do you?

Are You A RESPECTFUL Rule Follower?

rulesThis week in classes we will be talking to the students about how a key component to sportsmanship is playing by the rules. We all know that rules are in place as a way of keeping things safe and fair- be it our roads we drive on, a baseball game or even the 5th grade spelling bee. Certain standards and expectations are laid out and others are expected to follow. As a parent we work hard to instill these important values in our kids; and for the most part we are doing a really good job too. But are we really practicing what we preach?

Ever sped up at a yellow light to make it through before it turns red? Ever crossed the street outside of the designated crosswalk path? Every said your child was 9 when he is really 10 just to get him into an amusement park at the cheaper rate? What about going 60 on the Highway even though the speed limit is clearly posted as being 55? Wait you might be thinking, these are not GAME rules. No they aren’t but they are still established standards that we are expected to respect, just like we expect our kids to wait their turn during kick ball, or that a 16 year old boy will not be on the defense line ready to squash your little 10 year old quarterback.

Face it… you are a rule breaker! We do these types of “nuances” all the time in our everyday life and most of the time we don’t even think about them. We understand that not everything is black and white and give ourselves some wiggle room to bend a few rules from time to time. And I am willing to bet that not once when you have done these things did you ever think that you might be sending a message to your children that you don’t always have to follow the rules; yet that is exactly what we are doing!

By definition, good sporting behavior means playing a game by the rules, respecting those rules, and being courteous to teammates, the referee, and the other team. It is important to make sure that children understand the rules, but even more so that they follow them. If they see us breaking the rules, even slightly, from time to time when it is convenient or we are late or the crosswalk just seems so far away… they too will be quick to do the same and make their own justifications as to why it is okay. Something to think about the next time you’re ready to push the pedal harder when the traffic light turns yellow.

You win some…you lose some

parents-playing-tag-with-sonWe have all done it; slowed down to let your preschooler win a race to the car, happen to forget where the matching card was in a memory game, miss a shot in a game of HORSE with your son. We do these things because we want our kids to feel good, boost their self-confidence, to keep them from feeling sad. But by losing intentionally, we just may be hurting our kids instead of helping them.

Our children are being raised in a very different world. When we were growing up there was one winner, and they got the trophy, the prize, the shiny medal. Now- a- days every child goes home with a ribbon because we don’t want anyone to feel bad. While a nice gesture, it just may be promoting a generation of entitled kids who don’t know how to deal with losing.

But, the fact is we don’t always win in life. Sometimes the job you applied for goes to someone else, you may get passed over for a promotion or you lose the election for PTA president. But hopefully when those things happen, you are able to accept the loss with dignity and grace. This is exactly how we want our children to act as well. Whether they are playing baseball or a game of monopoly, the only way they will learn how to be a good loser is if they have a chance to lose some times. That is why it is so important that you allow your children to feel the disappointment and show them how to act at home, in a safe environment, so that when it happens at the ballpark or in school they will know how to act.

By losing, your child may become motivated to try harder next time. It can encourage them to practice and improve their skills so that next time they have a better chance at winning the game on their own, getting a better grade on that math test and eventually getting that promotion at work. Losing can also teach your child empathy. Every time they lose, they have a chance to understand what it feels like and how everyone has struggles in life. It is a chance to show them that you value effort more than victories and that it is how we deal with those struggles that life gives us that really matters. Will we be beaten down and give up? Or do we congratulate others who have succeeded and use that experience to work hard so we too can experience our own successes?

So the next time your child says to you, “I’ll race you to the car,” RACE them, and if you win so be it! High five your child and tell them they ran a good race. Sure your child may be sad for a while, but you can use the moment to teach them about losing and winning with grace; so that when a bigger loss comes, they’ll have the skills to handle it!

Life Skills: Sportsmanship – The Definition

Word of monthEach month we will discuss a life skill with all of our students. This month the word is Sportsmanship.  This word will be defined in the following ways for our students.

Young students: Sportsmanship means: “No matter if I win or lose, I use kind words and play by the rules!”

Older students: Sportsmanship means:  Respecting the rules and the spirit of competition. (the ‘golden rule’ of competition)

Each age group has a worksheet that parents can use to continue the discussion at home with their children, and one for adults to allow them to think more deeply about the skill and how it applies to them. Would you like to receive the worksheet? Stop by our studio at 133 Gibralter Avenue in Annapolis, MD and tell us the age of your child. We will give you a worksheet and invite you to watch Mr. Joe discuss the word with the students in class.  You can also follow our discussions here on this website.

If you would like to become a member of Balanced Life Skills, come TRY CLASSES FOR FREE.   We are not your typical martial arts school, in fact we are an education center, working with our students on physical skills along with empowering families with compassion, awareness and respect – creating a culture of peace. We believe in every child and build their self – confidence.  Balanced Life Skills takes part in community service and encourages each student to do the same.

Come in and talk to the parents that are here and watch the class for the age group you are interested in.  Learn about the Balanced Life Skills Way.

Sportmanship and Empathy

As I discussed sportsmanship with our classes one thing came up that I found very interesting.  Sportsmanship is very much like empathy.  When we look at what we do through the eyes of others, when we put ourselves in their shoes we know immediately if what we are doing demonstrates sportsmanship. 

I know that when I think about who I like to compete with it is those that don’t complain if they lose or gloat when they win.  They don’t yell at me if I make a mistake, and they don’t make fun of me.  They won’t push me and always try to make things fair.  Now if they are the things that make me feel good about playing with someone, then I want to be sure to do the same for them.  (that is empathy)

This is a great time to teach our children about empathy using sports or games.  They can see and feel it and that experience will have the greatest impact on them. 

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