It doesn’t matter whether it’s a pick-up game on the playground, or a structured game in an intramural sports program, children like testing the rules in sports.

Children need to learn how to play fair and follow rules. If they refuse to follow rules, there would be confusion.


Why Rules are Important

Frequent, structured extramural sports help children develop the discipline they need in order to engage effectively in the classroom and the real world. Rules are important in many other ways.

  • They teach children how to socialize
  • They make children feel competent
  • They help children stay safe
  • They boost confidence

Tia Ingleton, a former Wellness Coach for a major youth organization, handled many obstacles working with children ages 6 to12.

“It was normally a few that stirred up trouble,” said Ingleton.  “The worst thing for me was that they were harming the other children. They were too aggressive, not taking turns. They would push and punch, which was not part of the game.”

In the end, the surprising thing Ingleton learned was that children loved to do activities with adults.  “It could be drawing, playing a sport, or going for a walk,” she said.


Teach children how to play fair

Here are a few ways you can teach children how to play fair and follow rules:

  • Understand the age-level of the child                                                                                   It’s important to understand the age level of the child. All children progress at different rates but some milestones are general. Children age 6- to 7-years old understand the concept of numbers, and can understand commands with three separate instructions.  Children age 8- to 9-years old understand the concepts of space, and children age 10- to 12-years old read well.
  • Provide a variety of games                                                                                                 Keep children physically active and busy. Keep a variety of balls as well as jump ropes on hand.
  • Set boundaries                                                                                                                            Let children have freedom to play, let them know the importance of following the rules of the game, showing respect to adults and peers.
  • Pair children with a playmate                                                                                                   A playmate that is older can provide companionship as well as a role model for children
  • Be a role model                                                                                                                     Show children that you respect them. Give them feedback and praise.


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