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Emily was crying by the time the softball game ended. It wasn't because her team had lost. It wasn't because she was unhappy about her playing. Emily's tears came after her dad yelled at her in front of all her teammates for missing the fly ball that could have saved the game. Emily was just 8 years old. If your child has ever participated in a sport, you've probably met people like Emily's dad. These parents get so wrapped up in winning and losing that they lose sight of what's really important. They forget that one of the most important goals of kids' sports is helping children develop a sense of good sportsmanship. Kids practice good sportsmanship when they treat their teammates, opponents, coaches, and officials with respect. They learn the basics of sportsmanship from the adults in their lives, especially their parents and coaches. Parents can help their kids understand that good sportsmanship includes both small gestures and heroic efforts. It starts with something as simple as shaking hands with opponents before a game. It includes acknowledging good plays made by others. Sportsmanship isn't always easy. It can be tough to congratulate the opposing team after losing a game. But the kids who learn how to do it will benefit in many ways. Here are some suggestions on how to build sportsmanship in your child:

1. As a parent, shout words of encouragement, not directions, from the sidelines.

2. Keep your comments positive. Don't badmouth coaches, players or officials.

3.Applaud good plays no matter who made them.

4. Let your child choose the sport he or she wants to play. Don't push them into a sport just because you enjoyed it.

5. Keep your perspective! It's just a game.

6. Finally, don't forget to have fun. Think of all the benefits your child is gaining-new skills, new friends, and attitudes that will help them all through their life.