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Why you can't be a bad sport on the sideline at your kids' games!

It's great to support your kids in their sport but unhelpful when you don't keep things in perspective.

By Donna Fleming

There seems to be one on the sideline of every kids' sports match – that parent who spends the entire game bellowing abuse at everyone on the pitch.

While showing support for your child is a great thing to do and it is fantastic to be passionate about any activity they're involved in, you can take it too far. Here's how to avoid being that parent who is a bad sport.

Encourage, don't criticise

If you can't call out anything positive from the sideline, keep your mouth shut. If you can see something your child, or the team, is doing that could be improved, suggest it to them at an appropriate time, as positively as possible.

Remember that you're not the coach

That means it's not your job to issue instructions. It can be confusing for your child, and other kids on the team, having you yelling orders at them, especially if they've been given conflicting instructions from their coach or captain.

Trust that the coach knows what they are doing

If things don't go well, don't take out your frustration on the coach and definitely don't pull them aside during the game to give them some advice. If you really think you can help out in a positive way, make the approach afterwards or at training sessions.

Never abuse the referee OR umpire

They are doing their job – that is no excuse for attacking them verbally or, heaven forbid, physically.

Don't be abusive

Don't be abusive towards other children in your child's team or their opposition, or other parents on the sideline. It's nasty, rude and bullying, and upsetting for everyone.

Don't have ridiculously high expectations

Yes, it would be great if your child was a budding Richie McCaw or Bernice Mene, but expecting too much can be damaging for their self-esteem and confidence, and can leave them feeling like a failure. Just applaud the fact that they are making the effort to play a sport and don't get upset or lose your temper if they don't do as well as you'd like them to.

Don't analyse the game afterwards

As well as avoiding being overbearing while the game is in progress, also try not to give a blow-by-blow analysis of everything they did wrong afterwards.

They are probably well aware of when they screwed up and they don't need you rubbing it in. If they do ask for feedback, make it constructive.

Remember kids' sports games are meant to be fun

Yes, they can take them seriously and want to win, but the world won't end if they lose. Don't get worked up over something that should be enjoyable.

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