Last week while watching a tennis match between two young girls, I was reminded of the importance of teaching a child to be a good sport.
While both girls were skilled and competitive, one of the girls was very loud and aggressive on the court, yelling and throwing her racquet when she missed a ball. The ill-mannered girl won the first set and gloated over her victory. The other girl was obviously distracted by her opponent’s outbursts and rude behavior.
Before the next set, the father of the girl who lost, said to his daughter “Stay on your game, stay focused on yourself and disregard the rude girl’s outbursts. Just play to the best of your abilities.” “I’m going to win this match,” the girl said quietly with determination.
When the two girls went out on the court again, it was a different game. While the ill-mannered girl shouted, screamed, cried, and threw her racquet whenever she lost a point, the other girl stayed focused and calm, returning shots confidently.
Frustrated and in tears, the rude girl stopped the match to call her mother on her cell phone. The coach stepped in and asked for the phone to be put away because it was against the rules.
Undeterred by her opponent’s impolite behavior, the nice girl won the match. Everyone watching the match cheered for the nice girl, even her opponent’s teammates.
The next day at school when the winner of the tennis match was announced, all the students cheered for the nice girl. Everyone admired her determination and strength of character to play respectfully and win fairly.
Because of her unkind behavior, the rude girl had lost more than the match. She had alienated herself from the other students. Unfortunately, the girl was never taught how to control her emotions, be respectful of others, and play courteously and fairly within the rules of the game. She did not know how to be a good sport.
At Apple Montessori Schools, we focus on developing the “whole child.” We observe and guide the development of each child’s physical, intellectual, emotional, and social well-being so they can engage and interact with others politely and constructively. Simply put, we want to help a child learn to be a well-rounded person and a good sport. Teaching children to be self-aware, kind, and considerate of others and their environment are important life lessons that have a significant impact throughout their lifetime.