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Anger Management for Children in Sports

How You Can Help Your Budding Superstar Cope

by Dr. Michael Simon

The referee at your 11-year-old son's soccer game has just given him a yellow card for making an unsportsmanlike tackle. Your kid goes ballistic and starts screaming at the ref. His tirade leads to a red card and ejection from the game.

You ask yourself, "Where in the world did he pick up that vicious little temper?" Maybe he has a short fuse. Maybe he's imitating those angry, scowling pro athletes he sometimes sees on TV.

Or maybe he's imitating your behavior. Has he seen you hollering at the ref on TV for making a call you thought was ludicrous? Have you been giving him the message that sports is a matter of life or death? Have you been drilling it into his head that he has to step up his game if he wants to make the traveling team?

The first place children look for clues about how to behave are to adult role models. As a parent, it's especially important for you to model appropriate behavior. Of course, even if you are a great role model of good sportsmanship, your young athletes still need help in learning how to behave that way.

Anger and frustration are a part of sports. Children can get upset when they lose, make an error, or miss an easy volley. Getting shown up in front of teammates or family members can also trigger their anger.

One of the beauties of sports is that they present ideal opportunities for teaching children life lessons. You can use sports to help kids learn to cope with frustrating and angry feelings. Learning to deal with those feelings will help them handle frustrations off the field, as well.

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