How we deal with frustration in competitions affects our children

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Regarding sportsmanship, we need to consider actions that we would want to avoid, no matter how frustrated, disappointed we may feel, especially if we feel like we got cheated in some manner. No matter if we are watching a game, participating and especially if we are the coach. All of those participatory areas need good sportsmanship to be displayed, especially when you consider all the little eyes of children who are watching and learning from you. Sportsmanship goes for adults and young children who have younger siblings who mimic the way you speak and act.

Consider the effects of cheating with the goal of winning and the impact it has on the other competitors, the referee and those watching. Everyone can see what you are doing when you cheat, and if you do get away with it one time or more, you will not trust yourself in the future to play by the rules. Young ones watching will learn that doing whatever it takes to win is the way to conduct themselves and may take it further than you did, even hurting others in the name of competition.

Rude and foul language can be the result of frustration with yourself, other competitors and the referee when a person has not developed the virtue of self-discipline. The use of this kind of language results in younger players to believe it is the only way to express yourself when you are frustrated, and soon you will see it used in the home directed at parents or in a school directed at teachers or other authority figures. Viewed as disrespectful toward authority figures, it is easy to see how it has been learned by just watching how some react when involved in competitive activities.

One other behavior that we see from frustrated coaches, parents, and participants is throwing a temper tantrum when things do not go their way. Screaming, stomping their feet, throwing items around or crying all come from a level of frustration that is uncontrolled. Consider the feelings of those the tantrum is directed towards and the teaching that is happening with those watching you in the middle of such a tantrum.

If a person deals with frustration and disappointment in negative ways, it simply cannot make anyone involved feel good about the situation or themselves. Not the one cheating, using rude language or throwing a fit or those who are on the receiving end. Think of the impact on others playing the game or those in the stands watching the competition. So how do we develop better habits in this setting? Here is a simple suggestion.

When at home watching your favorite team on television, or playing a game with your family, this is the time to practice self-control, self-discipline, consideration and dignity. Balance your enthusiasm for winning, excellence and justice with forgiveness, honesty, moderation, and respect. Remember you are a role model for all those watching you, both young and old. Set the example of having zeal with doing the right thing.

Following the rules is good sportsmanship

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On a team & in the family!

One of the keys to good sportsmanship whether in a game or practicing it at home is the need for all the players to follow the rules. If we are at home, there are rules, or we might call them boundaries that have been decided on by the family as they way they would like to live in their home. Since we are on the “team” or the family, we follow all the rules of the family.

The rules in the family may be as simple as ‘no yelling in the house,’ but that rule is in cooperation with the virtue of peacefulness that has been established as important in the family. In other parts of our life, like in sports, any game that we play will have rules that make it safe and fair for all of the participants. There are rules about how the game is played, with how many players at a time, and how to keep score.

When someone breaks the rules of a game or goes against the standards of the team many times, others suffer from that breakdown of loyalty and integrity to the event. Inside a family, if rules are broken other family members suffer also. They may feel the disappointment or the peace in the home may be lost. Opportunities for all members of the family may
not be available, just because one member of the family chose not to follow the boundaries set for the family.

Remembering that our family is our primary team will also remind us to show kindness in all of the situations with the family. When someone makes a mistake, we expect for them to make amends to hold the honor of themselves and the family. Meanwhile, the rest of the family will show kindness and forgiveness for their teammate. This idea can be applied to our teams we play on outside of the home also.

Our goal as a family is to be good teammates, supporting each other, cheering each member of the family on to be their best, to stay within the boundaries set by the family, so we are united. When we have this kind of unity, every family member will find their way of being safe, healthy, successful and happy.

Sportsmanship begins with how we think about success

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Sportsmanship is expected of our children when they are playing a game whether they win or lose. When they are on a team in a league, many times, they are taught to show sportsmanship after a match by giving the other team a handshake and “good game” to each other. The idea of sportsmanship goes beyond the end of the game formalities.

Playing the game with respect for the rules, the all of the competitors and the spirit of competition is the key to enjoying the activity and improving ourselves physically and mentally. Playing only to win at the cost of showing respect, takes away from the lessons we can learn in the game, the spirit of competition and improvement of our skills.

So how do we teach our children to play their games with respect and grace, win or lose? It begins with how we role model as parents at home, and the attitude that is encouraged at home, even when you are playing a board game as a family.

Do not take this to mean that we should not have winners and losers at home in our game. In any game or competition most of the time someone wins, and someone loses. If our children do not learn this or everyone gets a trophy in a game that clearly has a winner, they are encouraged to believe that they cannot, or worse should not lose in a game. It is not the winning or losing that is critical, it is how we win or how we lose that has an impact on our resilience with school work, a job or anytime that we may have a loss or a win and what we learn from that performance.

I paraphrase John Wooden regarding competition, ‘you would be hard pressed to find a player of mine that would tell you that I ever mentioned winning or losing. Success in anything that you do comes from the satisfaction of mind that you did the best that you could with the capabilities you have.’ Sportsmanship begins with doing the best we can, putting forth our best efforts in preparation and performance and being satisfied that we did so. Of course, we want to win, but more important is did we play the game at our best, did we learn something and are we improving.

Gifts of Character: Sportsmanship – The Definition

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Each month we will discuss one life skill with all of our students. This month’s skill is Sportsmanship. This life skill will be defined in the following ways for our students.

Young students: No matter if we win or lose, we use kind words and follow the rules!

Older students: Showing respect for the rules, the participants and the spirit of competition.

We are not your typical after school activity, in fact, we are an education center, working with students on physical self-defense skills while empowering families to bring out the best in our children and ourselves – through the martial arts. We believe every child has 52 gifts in them already. They only need to be taught how to grow and use them in their life. Balanced Life Skills serves parents, teachers, and students to reach that goal.

If you would like to see Joe Van Deuren and Balanced Life Skills at work, TRY CLASSES FOR FREE for 2 weeks.

Are You THAT Parent?

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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?

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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.