Teaching Your Kid to Be a Gracious Loser from Time To Time

smooth loserFrom their youngest days, you can see that kids are interested in winning. Whenever they play together, they find games to play involving a clear winner and a clear loser. Since we’ve learned in our adult years that winning is not always possible, it may be wise to help our children cope with losing from time to time. Many of the most successful people in the world overcame extreme difficulties, suffering loss after loss, never giving into the temptation to quit. Competition is a normal part of life. We compete in sports, academically, for jobs and promotions, even for love. We can teach our children to lose graciously so they can move forward in life pursuing their dreams instead of remaining stuck with feelings of failure.

The Role of Parents

Parents play an integral role in the lives of their children. From the moment our children are born, we’re teaching them all that we know about life: how to develop our talents and interests, how to deal with our feelings and emotions, and even everyday things as simple as the act of play. Our children will reflect the examples they are shown at home by their parents. If the parent becomes frustrated when experiencing loss, the child will pick up on the parent’s attitude and learn to reflect this behavior.

One way to set a positive example during situations where you child must deal with loss (either in sport or in life matters such as a parents divorce), open and frequent communication about the current circumstances can really help your child to internalize what is happening. This is admittedly easier when the end of the marriage is amicable. Both parents can model how to be a good sport and show kids that progress can be found even when certain things must come to an end.

The Art of Losing

There will be circumstances when kids will lose while their parent isn’t present. At recess, during play dates, in school, and away from home, children and teens will be presented with opportunities to win or lose. What should they do if perhaps a parent isn’t there to comfort them or guide them down a healthy emotional path? They will need to learn to be fair with each other as well as hold each other and themselves accountable to the rules that have been put in place. If they explode in anger at an unfair call, this could result in no longer being invited to participate. But if they’re generous, fair, and reasonable, other will recognize these traits and enjoy spending time with them in competition.

Demonstrating Good Sportsmanship

Kids can show good sportsmanship in the following ways

  • Play fair and do not cheat others or yourself.
  • Work hard during practice.
  • Be polite. Don’t trash talk.
  • Do your best without showing off.
  • Give others the opportunity to play even if you need to sit out.
  • Compliment your opponent after a loss or a win.
  • Follow the advice of your coaches.
  • Listen to officials. Wait until after the game to ask for clarification about a bothersome call.
  • Accept a loss and don’t blame others — including yourself.
  • Encourage your teammates by cheering even if you are losing.

If your child no longer enjoys the sport or starts to take it too seriously, it might be time for a break. Remind him or her you win in life by treating others kindly instead of being a poor sport.

Author of this article, Tyler Jacobson, enjoys going to the mountains near his home in Draper, Utah to connect with his wife and children through camping, hiking, and quality time together. When he isn’t rebooting in the outdoors, he shares his fatherly experiences with the world through writing and creative work. Tyler shares the ups and downs of family life and the solutions he’s found through lengthy research and involvement in the industry and his own experiences to help parents everywhere. Follow Tyler on: Twitter | LinkedIn