Safe, affirming and fair environments in competition: On and off the field, court or track

The process and experience for children and adults can be so much richer when healthy environments are created and fostered.

Developing children’s interest, skills and passions bring many families to soccer sidelines, band concerts, fairs, and the like. Great pride can be taken in ribbons, metals and scores however the process and experience for children and adults can be so much richer when healthy environments are created and fostered.

Healthy competition:

  • Focused on improvements, time, skills not place, or fellow competitors
  • Focused on encouragement and celebration of effort
  • Seen in positive language, inclusion and cooperation
  • Builds self-esteem, goal setting and confidence

This applies at all levels, from 4 year old soccer to high school football. We all, coaches, parents, grandparents, spectators, officials and players have a responsibility to hold each other and ourselves accountable for actions, words and attitudes. Beyond the Scoreboard and Positive Coaching Alliance are doing just that—sharing resources for supporting and recognizing positive sportsmanship. Beyond sports competition Michigan State University Extension 4-H has youth development principals for recreation and numerous project areas.

Healthy youth to adult and peer interactions need to be the cornerstone of all extra-curricular activities and when they are the benefits last a lifetime. When they aren’t youth may lose interest, become aggressive, withdrawal or follow an unhealthy trajectory.

To make the learning experience for youth as rich as possible consider what it is you can do to foster safe, affirming and fair environments everywhere youth play, learn and grow.

  • Volunteer
  • Attend workshops, seek resources
  • Model positive behavior
  • Include and advocate for all children

To contact an expert in your area, visit the website or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).

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