How to Deal With Your Kid's Bad Attitude in Sports

Playing sports helps children build confidence, handle conflict and make new friends. However, children sometimes develop a bad attitude while playing sports when they are frustrated or disappointed. Children may also act in an unsportsmanlike manner when imitating the actions and attitudes of teammates or professional athletes. Setting clear expectations and modeling good sportsmanship helps your child transform a bad attitude into a positive mindset.

Model a positive attitude for your child. Don't criticize yourself or your teammates when you're frustrated and don't give up. Focus on giving positive feedback and encouragement from the sidelines or bleachers instead of criticism.

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Check whether your goals for your child are realistic. If you expect him to win every game or be the star player, he is likely to become frustrated or disappointed with his performance. Encourage him to try his best and praise effort, not only accomplishment.

Tell children when they are acting inappropriately. Tell them how their actions are unacceptable and how they should act. Make sure your expectations are consistent.

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Talk to children about acceptable ways to express anger or frustration. Tell kids they are allowed to feel disappointed or angry, but they can't throw their tennis racquet on the court.

Let children take the consequences for their bad attitude. For example, if their coach benches them or a referee penalizes them for unsportsmanlike behavior, don't intervene.

Discuss the sportsmanship you see in professional sports and movies. Discuss how players are acting well or poorly and explain the consequences that result from poor behavior.

Ensure children are physically prepared for sports. Children are more likely to be cranky or irritable if they are tired, hungry or thirsty. Make sure kids drink lots of water, eat healthy meals and get plenty of sleep the night before a game.


Speak to your child's coach if other teammates or parents have a bad attitude during practice or a game.