Parents - picture this: there are ten seconds left in your son's football game. The quarterback passes to your son, he catches the ball, but then fumbles in a tackle. Your son's team ends up losing the game. In a hypothetical situation as such, how would you respond?
Psychologists say how parents choose to handle, and respond to, these kinds of situations is crucial to a child's development.
Covenant Medical Center Psychologist Dan Ekstrom said sports shouldn't be 100 percent centered around perfection. Instead, athletics offer a way in which kids can grow.
"We all develop strategies and habits about the way we function in the world," Ekstrom said.
The formed habits help kids learn about themselves, and aid in the developmental process. Ekstrom said parents and adults in general can focus on several areas to use sports in a healthy, effective way; one of those is effort.
Ekstrom said parents can form questions in a way that focuses on effort and progress, rather than solely the end result:
Another focus area is strategy, as sports can help young children learn to rationalize.
"They understand that losing or not performing up to your standard isn't tragic, it's disappointing," Ekstrom said.
Sportsmanship also plays a significant role in athletics. Health experts say building relationships and learning how to adapt in given circumstances can carry over into other areas, such as professional life and relationships.
Ekstrom said one of the largest take-away points when it comes to kids, sports and competition is: keep things in perspective. If a child misses a goal, or drops the football - it's not the end of the world.