Jonah Engler Emphasizes the Importance of Teaching Kids Sportsmanship


Humility in defeat is something everyone should practice, but it isn’t the easiest thing to teach your children. Even the most talented kids are not immune to poor attitude, and one of the places this kind of behavior really finds a platform in the field. When a child messes up at a game, it’s perfectly normal and human of them. But if they react by arguing, cheating, making excuses, or pointing fingers, people tend to form poor impressions then and there; these impressions long outlast any mention of their talent.

As a parent, one of the worst things you can do is to attempt to inculcate a “win at any cost” mentality in your child. Winning is great, and every kid should strive for success, but an egocentric approach to any endeavor tends to override more selfless, time-tested human values like humility, consideration, and camaraderie, which are so much more important. You must teach them to act with grace on and off the field and to always value fairness, forgiveness, and good sportsmanship.

Jonah Engler Suggests You Call out Poor Sportsmanship

If your kid is acting like a sore loser, go ahead and call it out. This can range from making excuses and not accepting fair criticism, to going too far and blaming their mistakes on their teammates, coaches, or another parent. You need to clearly define the boundaries of acceptable behavior and tell them that this kind of attitude will not be tolerated. Simply forbidding them isn’t a good idea though; you need to explain why it is bad. Tell them that being considerate of others’ feelings is not optional; if they say something hurtful, they will not be allowed to participate any further. You can come up with a card system if sports references are their thing, advises Jonah Engler. Any poor attitude displayed is a yellow card offense, where you take them aside and correct the action. Any violent or outright rude behavior is a red card offense; you will take them home immediately, no matter what.

Stress on the Importance of Fraternity and Sportsmanship, says Jonah Engler

Sportsmanship always needs to take precedence over victory if you want to raise a good child. You have to keep repeating that winning isn’t everything and that it isn’t the outcome, but how you play a game that stays with you forever and defines who you are. You can keep posters in their rooms that reflect these sentiments, and also have elders repeat the same to them from time to time. If they don’t play clean, they don’t play. As per experts at, collaboration is bound to beat competition on all occasions. Good sportsmanship is not just important in the sports ground but it could also, make you unflinching and unstoppable even in business.

Jonah Engler Advises: Find Teachable Moments 

Your kids need to learn that setbacks are a part of life, and just like they have good days, bad days come too. It is how you take them in stride and move on to the next challenge that defines you. You should go the extra mile to sensitize them to the feelings of others, on their team, as well as, the opponents. Point out positive and negative examples that you notice in real-life interactions as well as in popular media to really drive the point home. While a lot of reality television is not rooted in reality, these shows do a good job of showing how people feel when they deal with adversity and loss. Interviews of the sports stars they idolize work great for this too because every single great athlete has suffered their fair share of losses and come past it to be where they are.

Jonah Engler Emphasizes On Encouragement

Good losers and good sports go hand in hand. A person who could take a defeat in his stride without losing heart or being bitter is good sportsmanship. Parents could help their child become more encouraging simply by teaching him the famous ‘Two Praise Rule.’ According to this simple rule, the child must be encouraged to praise his peers twice before the game or the event ends. You must discuss some encouraging and motivating actions or comments so that he has a repertoire to start with, for instance, ‘Good argument!’ or ‘Good answer!’ or ‘Good performance!’ etc. You must go on expanding the list of praises. Your child must be encouraged to practice the above-discussed rule at group activities like a scout meeting, a team game, etc. 

Jonah Engler Recommends Teaching Kids to Lose Gracefully With No Regrets Whatsoever 

Everyone makes mistakes. Often kids are not sporting and they are bad losers. However, they must learn to lose gracefully and accept it as part of the game. Parents must teach their children to handle setbacks and defeats calmly and gracefully. Kids must not be poor losers. Parents must focus on teaching their children the skill of losing with dignity. They must help their kids develop the sportsmanship by losing gracefully. Your child must practice accepting defeats without losing heart. He must not despair instead; he must use this defeat as a stepping stone to future success. Encourage him to say things like ‘Let’s do it once again soon.’ Or ‘We tried our best.’ He must keep practicing so that he is able to say all these to his peers from the core of his heart and with confidence. 

Jonah Engler Tells Parents to Teach Their Kids the Good Sportsmanship Guidelines

Good sportsmanship implies following religiously a few guidelines of good behavior. Parents must share and teach these concepts to their kids. 

  • Follow all the rules and regulations of the game. You must explain to your kid that rules have been created to make sure that sports could be played in a fair and organized way.
  • Do not stoop to arguing. Ask your kid to focus on the game and not to give in to undesirable anger with teammates, opponents, referees, or coaches. Kids must be cautioned against using any foul language and negative words.
  • Always play fair and remember cheating is just not acceptable.
  • Always follow the dictates and directions. Listen to referees and coaches and follow their instructions. Always respect their decisions.
  • Show respect to the other team. Irrespective of winning or losing a game, it is of pivotal importance to show respect to the efforts of the other team. 
  • Praise your teammates when they perform well and encourage them even when they have committed some mistakes. Avoid unkind actions and criticism. 
  • Good sportsmanship is all about playing the game fairly and ending it on a friendly and positive note. 


A combination of positive and negative reinforcement is the key to teaching any concept- and it holds true for sportsmanship as well. If you keep being harsh to your child, they might lash out and reinforce the toxic patterns that you want to call out. You need to combine this with praise where it is due and words of affirmation and encouragement whenever possible. If you can keep it up along with other healthy parenting habits, your child will become a more rounded individual who enjoys each game for the experience, treats people with respect, and is an asset to any team they are part of.