Dealing with Parents Who Think Their Child Can Do No Wrong

Dealing with Parents Who Think Their Child Can Do No Wrong

We’ll often hear parents say that their child is their everything, their world. It’s understandable for parents to feel this way about their kids and it’s also natural for them to want to protect them from harm.

However, some parents reach a point where they start to delude themselves into believing that these little beings that they’ve raised are perfect in every way.

These are the kind of parents who ignore their child’s misbehavior’s or make excuses for them. They fight their kid’s battles. And you’ll most likely find them front row and center at every one of their children’s activities like plays or games.

Coaches of kids with parents who think they can do no wrong find themselves having to deal with these types of parents. Here are some tips on how to handle them:

 

Keep Your Cool

These types of parents are most likely the ones who would attend every practice if they could. And when they do, they’ll be paying close attention to the way you coach their child. They may even call you out if they feel that you are too hard on their child. Parents like these probably already think their kids are the best players on the team.

When dealing with difficult parents at practices or games, remember to keep your cool. If the parent appears frustrated, too protective, or is acting defensive, there’s no sense in trying to battle someone who truly believes their kid is the best. Instead, ask the parent to speak with you at another time in private.

 

Build Trust by Touching Base

After you’ve had a meeting with the parent, it’s ideal to touch base often so that you can build trust. Build a rapport with the parent. It’s difficult for parents to hear the truth about their kids. However, it may be easier for them if it is coming from someone they trust knows their child well and is as concerned about their future as they are.

 

Show You Care

Parents want to see that their kid’s coach cares about their performance and progress as much as they do. There’s not much you can do about the parent’s belief that they child is the best or a star athlete even if they are far from it. They may think that they’ll get their way with you because you show you care, leading them to believe you’re on their side. Actually, this just puts you in a better position to talk openly and be honest with the parents.

 

Establish Authority

Once you’ve got a good line of communication open with the parent, it will be easier for you to speak with authority when the time arises. Be confident if you ever need to approach a parent to discuss their child. Be prepared for some tension. Parents who believe their children are perfect in every way will not have an easy time hearing that their kid is flawed in any way.

Look at them directly in the eye. Speak in a professional manner that is assuring. Let the parent see that you are concerned for their child, and together, you can focus on their needs. When the parent recognizes that you are not judging their parenting skills and want to work together on resolving any issues, they’ll ease up.

How Kids’ Sports Became a $15 Billion Industry

How Kids’ Sports Became a $15 Billion Industry

Joey Erace knocks pitch after pitch into the netting of his $15,000 backyard batting cage, the pings from his metal bat filling the air in the south New Jersey cul-de-sac. His private hitting coach, who’s charging $100 for this hour-long session, tells Joey to shorten his stride. He’s accustomed to such focused instruction: the evening batting practice followed a one-on-one fielding lesson in Philadelphia earlier in the day, which cost another $100.

Relentless training is essential for a top player who suits up for nationally ranked teams based in Texas and California, thousands of miles from home. But Joey has talents that scouts covet, including lightning quickness with a rare knack for making slight adjustments at the plate–lowering a shoulder angle, turning a hip–to drive the ball. “He has a real swagger,” says Joey’s hitting coach, Dan Hennigan, a former minor leaguer. “As long as he keeps putting in this work, he’s going to be a really, really solid baseball player at a really, really high level.”

Already, Joey has a neon-ready nickname–Joey Baseball–and more than 24,000 followers on Instagram. Jewelry and apparel companies have asked him to hawk their stuff. On a rare family vacation in Florida, a boy approached Joey in a restaurant and asked for his autograph. But Joey Baseball has yet to learn cursive. He is, after all, only 10 years old. They snapped a picture instead.

Joey Erace is an extreme example of what has become a new reality for America’s aspiring young athletes and their families. Across the nation, kids of all skill levels, in virtually every team sport, are getting swept up by a youth-sports economy that increasingly resembles the pros at increasingly early ages. Neighborhood Little Leagues, town soccer associations and church basketball squads that bonded kids in a community–and didn’t cost as much as a rent check–have largely lost their luster. Little League participation, for example, is down 20% from its turn-of-the-century peak. These local leagues have been nudged aside by private club teams, a loosely governed constellation that includes everything from development academies affiliated with professional sports franchises to regional squads run by moonlighting coaches with little experience. The most competitive teams vie for talent and travel to national tournaments. Others are elite in name only, siphoning expensive participation fees from parents of kids with little hope of making the high school varsity, let alone the pros.

The cost for parents is steep. At the high end, families can spend more than 10% of their income on registration fees, travel, camps and equipment. Joe Erace, who owns a salon and spas in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, says Joey’s budding baseball career has cost north of $30,000. A volleyball dad from upstate New York spent $20,000 one year on his daughter’s club team, including plenty on gas: up to four nights a week she commuted 2½ hours round-trip for practice, not getting home until 11:30 p.m. That pales beside one Springfield, Mo., mom, who this summer regularly made a seven-hour round-trip journey to ferry her 10- and 11-year-old sons to travel basketball practice. Others hand their children over entirely. A family from Ottawa sent their 13-year-old to New Jersey for a year, to increase his ice time on the travel hockey circuit. A sponsor paid the teen’s $25,000 private-school tuition. This summer, 10 boys from across the U.S. stayed with host families in order to play for a St. Louis–based travel baseball club.

“It’s definitely taken over everything,” says Magali Sanchez, a legal records clerk from San Diego whose daughter Melanie Barcenas, 9, and son Xzavier Barcenas, 8, play travel soccer. To help pay for their fees, Sanchez’s husband Carlos, a gas-station attendant, will spend 12 hours on a Saturday carting supplies at tournaments. Practice and tournaments overtake nights and weekends like kudzu–Sanchez says they often have to skip family weddings and kids’ birthday parties. “This sports lifestyle is crazy,” she says. “But they’re your kids. You do anything for them.”

A range of private businesses are mining this deep, do-anything parental love. The U.S. youth-sports economy–which includes everything from travel to private coaching to apps that organize leagues and livestream games–is now a $15.3 billion market, according to WinterGreen Research, a private firm that tracks the industry. And the pot is rapidly getting bigger. According to figures that WinterGreen provided exclusively to TIME, the nation’s youth-sports industry has grown by 55% since 2010.

The numbers have been catnip for investors. A top NBA star and the billionaire owner of the NFL’s most valuable team own equity in youth-sports startups. Major media and retail companies are investing in technology that manages peewee schedules. And municipalities that once vied for minor-league teams are now banking on youth sports to boost local economies, issuing bonds for lavish complexes that they hope will lure glove-toting tykes and their families.

There are upsides to the frenzy. Some kids thrive off intense competition, and the best players receive an unprecedented level of coaching and training. The travel circuit can also bring people of different backgrounds together in a way that local leagues by definition do not.

But as community-based teams give way to a more mercenary approach, it’s worth asking what’s lost in the process. Already, there are worrying signs. A growing body of research shows that intense early specialization in a single sport increases the risk of injury, burnout and depression. Fees and travel costs are pricing out lower-income families. Some kids who don’t show talent at a young age are discouraged from ever participating in organized sports. Those who do often chase scholarships they have a minuscule chance of earning.

“For better or worse, youth sports is being privatized,” says Jordan Fliegel, an entrepreneur who has capitalized on the shift. Whatever the answer is, the transition has been seismic, with implications for small towns, big businesses and millions of families.

“I love working hard,” says Joey Erace, 10, who lives in southern New Jersey but has suited up for baseball teams based in California and Texas. His Instagram account 
@joeybaseball12 has more than 24,000 followers. Finlay MacKay for TIME

The United States Specialty Sports Association, or USSSA, is a nonprofit with 501(c)(4) status, a designation for organizations that promote social welfare. According to its most recent available IRS filings, it generated $13.7 million in revenue in 2015, and the CEO received $831,200 in compensation. The group holds tournaments across the nation, and it ranks youth teams in basketball, baseball and softball. The softball rankings begin with teams age 6 and under. Baseball starts at age 4.

Entering June, Joey Erace’s Dallas-area team, the Texas Bombers, was third in the USSSA’s 10-and-under baseball power ranking. The Alamo (Texas) Drillers were No. 1. This summer, Luke Martinez, 10, played second base for the Drillers. His family lives in a well-appointed mobile home in south San Antonio. Luke’s mom Nalone cooks for a food truck. Luke’s dad Jerry is a logistics coordinator at a printer and copier company. He works overtime whenever possible to save for Luke’s frequent overnight trips across Texas and to Louisiana, North Carolina and Florida. The family has skipped car payments and put off home repairs to help.

Like millions of sports parents, the Martinezes hope that Luke’s quick bat will lead to a college scholarship. There may be no single factor driving the professionalization of youth sports more than the dream of free college. With the cost of higher education skyrocketing–and athletic-department budgets swelling–NCAA schools now hand out $3 billion in scholarships a year. “That’s a lot of chum to throw into youth sports,” says Tom Farrey, executive director of the Aspen Institute’s Sports & Society program. “It makes the fish a little bit crazy.”

The odds are not in anyone’s favor. Only 2% of high school athletes go on to play at the top level of college sports, the NCAA’s Division I. For most, a savings account makes more sense than private coaching. “I’ve seen parents spend a couple of hundred thousand dollars pursuing a college scholarship,” says Travis Dorsch, founding director of the Families in Sport Lab at Utah State University. “They could have set it aside for the damn college.”

Still, the scholarship chase trickles down to every level. College coaches are now courting middle-schoolers, and competitive high school teams scout the club ranks. In some places, travel teams have supplanted high school squads as the priority for top players. Kids learn early that it’s imperative to attend travel tournaments–and impress. Katherine Sinclair, 12, has played basketball games in Philadelphia and New York City on the same day, but she embraces the grind. “I don’t have that long until I’m in eighth grade,” she says. “That’s when college scouts start looking at me. It’s when I have to work my butt off.”

The Internet has emerged as a key middleman, equal parts sorting mechanism and hype machine. For virtually every sport, there is a site offering scouting reports and rankings. Want to know the top 15-and-under girls’ volleyball teams? PrepVolleyball.com has you covered (for a subscription starting at $37.95 per year). The basketball site middleschoolelite.com evaluates kids as young as 7 with no regard for hyperbole: a second-grader from Georgia is “a man among boys with his mind-set and skill set”; a third-grader from Ohio is “pro-bound.”

Social-media-savvy parents now build Twitter and Instagram feeds around their young athletes. One such account calls itself “a brand inspired by my 11 yr old son’s unique style and attitude on and off the Baseball Field.”

Children sense that the stakes are rising. In a 2016 study published in the journal Family Relations, Dorsch and his colleagues found that the more money families pour into youth sports, the more pressure their kids feel–and the less they enjoy and feel committed to their sport.

Even well-meaning parents, meanwhile, can find themselves swept up. “You say to yourself, Am I keeping up?” says Rosemary Brewer, a nonprofit executive in Portland, Ore., who has mixed feelings about placing her two sons, 11 and 15, on travel lacrosse teams. “There’s pressure, especially if your kids have some talent. You feel it a little more. But we want the kids to have fun and be with their friends. We have to take a step back and keep asking ourselves, What’s the end goal?”

This parenting experience is new, given that the hypercharged kids’ sports scene didn’t exist on this scale just a few years ago. “When parents enter the youth-sports development complex, they’re naive,” says sports psychologist Jim Taylor. “They absorb the message they hear most: ‘You mean, your kid’s not playing on a travel team? She’s not playing all the time? What’s wrong?'” Taylor, who’s writing a book about youth-sports parenting, has two daughters, 12 and 10, who ski and swim. “It’s hard not to get sucked in,” he says. “Even for someone like myself, a quote-unquote expert on this stuff. Because I’m human. I’m a dad.”

King-Riley Owens, 9, who is ranked as a five-star prospect by the National Youth Basketball Report, lives in L.A. but has already played in tournaments in Utah, Texas and Nevada. His parents have used GoFundMe to help pay for the travel. If the NBA doesn’t work out, King-Riley wants to be a veterinarian. Here King-Rily is photographed at home on Aug. 2, 2017. Finlay MacKay for TIME

There are few better places to take the measure of the youth-sports industrial complex than the Star, the gleaming, 91-acre, $1.5 billion new headquarters and practice facility of the Dallas Cowboys. Turn left upon entering the building and you’ll find the offices of Blue Star Sports, a firm that has raised more than $200 million since April 2016 to acquire 18 companies that do things like process payments for club teams, offer performance analytics for seventh-grade hoops games and provide digital social platforms for young athletes.

Blue Star’s investors include Bain Capital; 32 Equity, the investment arm of the NFL; and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who leases Blue Star space in his headquarters. The company’s goal is to dominate all aspects of the youth-sports market, and it uses an affiliation with the pros to help. Blue Star’s logo bears a not-coincidental resemblance to the one seen on national TV every Sunday, and the company’s conference room has a view of the Jones family boardroom. The connection is clear for kids and investors alike.

Other major companies have also entered the fray. The national retailer Dick’s Sporting Goods has acquired companies that specialize in online scheduling and score tracking for youth sports. Last year NBC bought Sport Ngin, a scheduling and social app that had raised $39 million in venture funding, and rechristened it SportsEngine. In August, SportsEngine launched a searchable directory of more than 100,000 youth-sports camps, teams and leagues. Time Inc., TIME’s parent company, launched Sports Illustrated Play after acquiring three youth-sports-software startups. SI Play’s apps now have 17 million monthly unique users. In the past 18 months, investors have plowed over $1 billion into the youth-sports market, according to SI Play CEO Jeff Karp.

The boom has given rise to countless entrepreneurial efforts, from new facilities to recruiting sites to private-coaching outfits. Even during the depths of the Great Recession, revenue for Travel Team USA, a company that books youth-sports travel, continued to double year over year. In 2012, entrepreneur Fliegel launched CoachUp, an app that connects young athletes with coaches. The NBA star Stephen Curry is an investor. “It doesn’t hurt to say Steph’s one of the bosses,” says Victor Hall, a New York City teacher and coach who calls the private hoops lessons he offers through the app a “thriving” side business.

Across the U.S., the rise in travel teams has led to the kind of facilities arms race once reserved for big colleges and the pros. Cities and towns are using tax money to build or incentivize play-and-stay mega-complexes, betting that the influx of visitors will lift the local economy.

That was the thinking in Westfield, Ind., which was hunting for ways to expand the commercial tax base of the small city some 20 miles north of downtown Indianapolis. “We wondered, Is it conceivable to create an industry around family travel sports?” says mayor Andy Cook. Concluding that it was, Westfield issued $70 million in bonds to build Grand Park Sports Campus, a 400-acre complex that opened in 2014 and includes 31 grass and synthetic fields for soccer, lacrosse and other field sports, 26 softball and baseball diamonds, and a 370,000-square-foot indoor facility. The city is hoping that tax revenue generated by new hotels, retail outlets and medical facilities near the park will eventually pay off the debt.

Westfield officials had considered attempting to draw a minor-league baseball team to the city. “That gives you some prestige,” says Cook. “But it’s not really our moneymaker. Our moneymaker is regional tournaments, under 16 years of age. Because they bring Mom, Dad, brother, sister, grandparents.”

The pioneer of this trend is the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, which opened in 1997 on the grounds of Disney World in Orlando. The 220-acre venue allows Disney to collect revenue from tournament fees, hotel stays and theme-park tickets, while giving it another way to win the hearts–and future wallets–of its youngest customers. Business is thriving. Wide World of Sports hosted 385,285 athletes in 2016, up 28% since 2011.

Sometime this winter, the Sports KingDome, a facility with 347,000 sq. ft. of indoor space–enough to fit a dozen multisport fields, or six Little League baseball fields–is slated to open on the site of a former IBM campus in East Fishkill, N.Y., some 70 miles north of New York City. It will become one of the largest domes on the planet, and the owner plans to auction naming rights to the highest bidder. The $25 million, all-weather complex will allow families in the populous northeastern U.S. to play travel soccer, lacrosse and baseball 12 months a year, just like they do in the Sun Belt.

Melanie Barcenas, 9, practicing in her San Diego backyard, hopes to follow in the footsteps of the superstar Neymar. “He plays just like me,” she says. Melanie plays multiple soccer games most weekends. To save money, her family stays in a hotel only if a game is more than a four-hour drive from home. Here Melanie is photographed at home where her father Carlos made a practice field for her in their backyard, on Aug. 3, 2017. Finlay MacKay for TIME

Would that be so bad? Many families say they enjoy the travel-sports experience. Parents bond with one another. Kids make new friends. “We have friends and family tell us that it’s too much, too soon,” says Jerry Martinez, Luke’s father. “But this is his passion. I’m not going to stomp on it.”

There are mounting concerns, however, over the consequences of such intensity, particularly at young ages. The average number of sports played by children ages 6 to 17 has dipped for three straight years, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association. In a study published in the May issue of American Journal of Sports Medicine, University of Wisconsin researchers found that young athletes who participated in their primary sport for more than eight months in a year were more likely to report overuse injuries.

Intense specialization can also tax minds. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “burnout, anxiety, depression and attrition are increased in early specializers.” The group says delaying specialization in most cases until late adolescence increases the likelihood of athletic success.

Devotion to a single sport may also be counterproductive to reaching that holy grail: the college scholarship. In a survey of 296 NCAA Division I male and female athletes, UCLA researchers discovered that 88% played an average of two to three sports as children.

Other consequences are more immediate. As expensive travel teams replace community leagues, more kids are getting shut out of organized sports. Some 41% of children from households earning $100,000 or more have participated in team sports, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association. In households with income of $25,000 or less, participation is 19%.

One weekend in early June, all eyes were on Joey Baseball. “Is that him?” a rival player asked his coach. Yes, indeed, it was Joey Erace of southern New Jersey in the flesh, warming up on a field in the town of Sulphur, La., where he had flown to play for the Texas Bombers at a regional tournament.

In addition to Joey, the Bombers imported two star players from California and a power hitter from Mexico, who smacked a moonshot home run in a preliminary-round game. Bombers coach Lale Esquivel, who won the College World Series at the University of Miami in 1999, makes no apologies for running his team like a professional outfit. “I can see talent at a young age,” Esquivel says. “My son is special. I want to surround him with the best kids from across the country. In return, playing on my team is going to help your son. Do we win? Of course we win. If I’m going to be investing all this time and money, we might as well win.”

Still, amid the plane rides, autograph requests and high-pressure tournaments, there are moments when things lurch into perspective. At one point during the weekend in Louisiana, Joe Erace tucked Joey’s pants in for him and paused. “Sometimes when I’m getting on him a bit,” he says, “my wife reminds me that Joey still thinks a big fat guy in a red suit delivers presents all around the world.”

–With reporting by ABIGAIL ABRAMS AND TARA JOHNSON/NEW YORK

How Much Water Should a Young Athlete Consume Throughout a Day?

How Much Water Should a Young Athlete Consume Throughout a Day?

While sports drinks and juices can provide hydration, water is still the healthiest option to keep your child hydrated throughout the day, particularly on game day.

Research has shown that adolescents and teens get less water than any other age group. This is mostly due to their access to drinks such as soda. To avoid dehydration, it is vital for your young athletes to consume water throughout their day.

One of the most important functions of water is to cool the body. When a young athlete exercises, their muscles generate heat and their body temperature rises. As their bodies get hot, they sweat, and their sweat evaporates as they cool down. This is what causes them to lose fluids, and the athlete will need to replace the fluids lost through sweating by drinking the adequate amount of water. If not, they upset their body’s water balance and become at risk of becoming overheated and dehydrated.

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends drinking four to eight ounces of water every fifteen to twenty minutes of exercise as a good starting point for hydrating athletes.

The ACSM provides the following guidelines for the maintenance of optimal hydration:

  • Before Exercise: 16-20 ounces within the two-hour period prior to exercise.
  • During Exercise: 4-8 ounces every 15-20 minutes during exercise.
  • Post Exercise: Replace 24 ounces for every one pound of body weight lost during exercise.

Parents and coaches must ensure that their young athletes are drinking enough fluids throughout the day. Adequate hydration is essential to the performance of any athlete at any age. Here is an easy guide sheet to making sure your child is drinking enough water on game day. The recommended daily amount of fluids according to age is:

5 glasses (1 liter) for 5 to 8 year old’s

7 glasses (1.5 liters) for 9 to 12 year old’s

8 to 10 glasses (2 liters) for 13+ years

 

Before the game/practice

Drinking fluids before the big game or practice will lessen the risk of dehydration. Have you child have a good meal that also contains fluids like fruits.

  • 1 – 2 hours before game/practice: 4 to 8 ounces of cold water
  • 10 – 15 minutes before game/practice: 4 to 8 ounces of cold water

 

During the game/practice

Most kids wait until timeouts or breaks. But if they feel really thirsty, they should pause and drink anytime they feel so thirsty that it cannot wait.

Every 20 minutes: 5 to 9 ounces of water, depending on weight

  • 5 ounces for a child weighing 88 pounds
  • 9 ounces for a child weighing 132 pounds

 

Remember to adjust water intake based on the weather. Extreme cold or extreme heat can change your child’s hydration needs. Be cautious that your kid does not over-drink as it may cause hyponatremia.

 

After the game/practice

To help the body recover from exercise, drinking water post-game will help correct any lost fluids during the game or practice. Remember that your child doesn’t just lose fluids through sweat but also through urination.

To get your child to drink more water, particularly before, during, or after a game, try to not make sports drink or juices an option or available to them. Kids tend to prefer these sugary drinks; however, water is still best to fulfill their hydration needs. So remember to always have cold water ready!

5 Books Every Athlete Should Read for Motivation

5 Books Every Athlete Should Read for Motivation

Sometimes all it takes is a good book to change your perspective. After reading it, you feel empowered, renewed, and motivated. Here are 5 books that every athlete should read for motivation:

  1. Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable by Tim Grover

“For more than two decades, legendary trainer Tim Grover has taken the greats—Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, and dozens more—and made them greater. Now, for the first time ever, he reveals what it takes to get those results, showing you how to be relentless and achieve whatever you desire.”

In Relentless, Grover reveals the necessary characteristics shared by the most intense competitors and achievers in sports and all walks of life. Relentless shows you how to trust your instincts and get “in the zone.” You’ll learn how to control and adapt to any situation.

 

    2. Bring Your “A” Game: A Young Athlete’s Guide to Mental Toughness  by Jennifer L. Etnier

Bring Your “A” Game was written specifically for young athletes interested in improving their performance and reaching their potential in sport.

This book introduces key strategies for mental training, such as goal setting, pre-performance routines, and confidence building. Each of the chapters focuses on a particular mental skill with exercises designed to reinforce the concepts. This book encourages athletes to incorporate mental skills into their daily lives and practice sessions so that it becomes second nature to them during competition.

    3. Mind Gym: An Athlete’s Guide to Inner Excellence

In Mind Gym, noted sports psychology consultant Gary Mack describes how your mind influences your performance on the field or on the court every bit as much as your physical skill does, if not more.

Mind Gym offers forty lessons and inspirational anecdotes from prominent athletes – many of whom he has worked with. You have the opportunity to learn the same techniques and exercises Mack uses to help elite athletes build mental “muscle.”

   4. Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones for Success  by John C. Maxwell

“The difference between average people and achieving people is their perception of and response to failure.”

Most people are never prepared to deal with failure. Maxwell says that if you are like him, coming out of school, you feared it, misunderstood it, and ran away from it. But Maxwell has learned to make failure his friend, and he teaches you to do the same in his book, Failing Forward.

“I want to help you learn how to confidently look the prospect of failure in the eye and move forward anyway,” says Maxwell. “Because in life, the question is not if you will have problems, but how you are going to deal with them. Stop failing backward and start failing forward!

   5. Unleash Your True Athletic Potential by Julianne Soviero

Unleash Your True Athletic Potential is considered an essential resource for coaches and parents of athletes. It addresses all the factors that affect athletic performance including nutrition, sleep, hydration, cross-training, injury prevention, muscle recovery and so much more.

This book, a product of over a decade of research, is designed to help all athletes – from professional athletes to fitness enthusiasts and complete novices. It includes interviewing some of the best coaches, athletes, trainers, physical therapists and social workers that the world has to offer.

Tips To Prevent Your Kid From Being a Sore Loser

Tips To Prevent Your Kid From Being a Sore Loser

Does your child throw a fit, whine, or cry when they don’t win? Do they yell that they never want to play again and dramatically stomp out of the room after they’ve just lost? Does your child expect to win every time?

Watching your kid be a sore loser can be disappointing, and many parents blame themselves for not raising a more gracious child. However, children become sore losers for many reasons.

Some are naturally more competitive and are hard on themselves when they don’t win. And some kids hate losing out of fear of disappointing others, particularly their parents or peers.

Whatever the cause, being a sore loser is reversible and you can guide your child towards being a good sport. Here’s how:

Praise them for the right reasons

Don’t praise them for the number of points they’ve scored or for being the fastest on the team. Instead, praise them for their efforts regardless of the fact that your child may be their team’s star player. Commend them for their performance regardless of game’s outcome. Praise them when they display good sportsmanship like cheering for their teammates or being genuine when they shake the opposing team’s’ hands.

This teaches your child that win or lose; you’re proud of them for more than their ability or skill to win a game.

Don’t let your child win

You’re not doing your child any favors if you always let them win. They start to get the taste for victory, and when they lose in the real world, they cannot stand to swallow the bitterness. While it may be tempting to let them win to avoid a meltdown, teaching them that losing happens and how to deal with it at a very young age is the best foundation for them to grow up to accept defeat gracefully.

Show them how to win and lose gracefully

You may not even know it, but your child may be learning this behavior from you. How do you conduct yourself during family game night? Do you break into a victory dance and brag about your win while the loss clearly saddens others? How do you react when you don’t get your way?

Every day there are ways for you to model good behavior and sportsmanship to your child.

Show them how to say “good game” and mean it. And when they do win, teach them not to be boastful or rub it in their opponent’s faces.

Promote gratitude

When your kids are raised in a loving and grateful environment, they’re not likely to throw a fit if things don’t go their way. Instead, they are simply thankful for the opportunity to have been involved. Not only will they not become sore losers but they will be gracious and humble winners.