As a parent, it is your responsibility to teach your child about life. Well, that’s not actually true but it sounds good. Let me put it to you another way: It is important for children to learn the skills they will need in life early on. This includes sportsmanship, the benefits of hard work and teamwork, how to be a good friend, how to deal with disappointment or even losing…the list goes on.
One thing I think sometimes gets neglected when teaching our children everything else they need to know is simple etiquette in sportsmanship. Now this isn’t something you can just sit them down one day and say ‘now here are the rules, it should be taught over time while playing games together with family etcetera.
What I would like to address today, however, is something that comes up a lot when watching (and sometimes playing) organized sports: Fighting/arguing with officials.
I personally think it should be against the rules to argue with refs and other officials but it’s not so I won’t complain about it too much, but you can bet your ass if my child ever does this I will be getting on them hard. (Hopefully, you already do this for your children without me having to tell you.) If they ask who made the rule? Tell them, God. But really what I’m most concerned with isn’t our kids arguing with referees, it’s them fighting.
Now don’t mistake this for ‘How To Deal With Bullies’ or even ‘How To Deal With People You Don’t Like’. I’m talking about the type of fighting that is against the rules in all organized sports. This includes punching, kicking, elbowing, head butting etcetera.
I think it’s important to teach our children how to deal with this kind of thing for these reasons:
- They need to know what not to do or else they will continue getting into trouble/injury (both physically and mentally).
- No one likes a bully; if your child knows how to defend themselves they will be less likely to attract bullies.
- Children who don’t fight back are more likely to become victims (of any age), abuse included.
- Fights can and do lead to serious problems (i.e. getting expelled/fired) for everyone involved; people of all ages make bad decisions when mad, your children need to know how not to be one of those people.
So here is a little thing I like to tell my kids:
This is always the first part of what I say but it tends to cover 90 % of situations (the other 10% being if they are trying to help someone who needs help). If you want someone off your back just walks away. There is no reason why you should allow yourself to continue being harassed by an angry person or group if you have clearly already realized that this bullying won’t stop until they get what they want. So just walk away…if you can.
At this point, your child should then turn around towards the person/people chasing him/her and say something along the lines of:
If you want to continue arguing fine, but I’m not going to fight you.
This is a firm statement that will hopefully result in the bully(s) leaving them alone for good. However, this doesn’t always work…in fact, let’s be honest it rarely works 100% of the time (I don’t know why it never occurs to me during these situations that I could just pick my kid up and carry them away on my shoulders lol).