Consequences for Poor Sportsmanship for Kids

By Candice Coleman
Poor sportsmanship may involve mocking an opponent.
Poor sportsmanship may involve mocking an opponent.

While parents may dream of children who understand how to lose graciously, poor sportsmanship is a common problem for children. If your child also breaks the rules of the game or challenges the calls of referees, relationships with teammates could be in jeopardy. Parents have several avenues for stopping this behavior before it gets worse.


Though you may be angry about your child's poor sportsmanship, talking the situation out first may prevent it from happening again. Explain how you want your child to act whether he wins or loses, and stress that poor sportsmanship is unacceptable. Good sportsmanship may include shaking hands after a game, complimenting other players on a good move or accepting a referee's calls, according to the Kids Health website. Parents can encourage children to practice this behavior with their siblings. It is also important to evaluate the coach's approach and your approach to sports. Coaches and parents focused only on winning may increase the odds that a child will display poor sportsmanship.

Time Outs

After discussing proper sportsmanship, your child may continue displaying poor behavior on the field. Time outs tend to be effective punishments for children ages 6 to 12, according to the Kids Health site. Giving your child a one-minute time out for each year of his life is usually the starting point for parents first giving time outs as punishment, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics' Remind your child that each time she leaves time out, the timer will start over again.


Grounding or revoking privileges can also be an effective method of punishment for children, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics on You may choose not to let your child attend practice, or if poor behavior continues, not to participate in sports at all. Remind your child of the potential consequences before each practice and game, and follow through on what you say for the greatest effect.

Additional Information

During the early elementary years, poor sportsmanship may be less of an issue, according to experts at Kids Health. As children grow older and become more competitive, poor sportsmanship may surface. If a coach has not noticed a child's sportsmanship, you may want to mention your concerns and what you can do to improve your child's sportsmanship. Switching to a different team or waiting until your child is older before enrolling him in sports again may also be ideal solutions.

About the Author

Candice Coleman worked in the public school system as a middle school and high school substitute teacher. In addition to teaching, she is also a tutor for high school and college students.