Losing is a natural part of life, but learning to lose gracefully doesn’t always come so naturally. If you’ve ever watched a professional sports game, you know all too well what I mean.
Learning to lose gracefully is an art that is perfected only through guidance and experience. Fortunately, you can help your children learn art sooner rather than later by:
Putting the emphasis on giving your best.
While everyone wants to win, shift the focus from winning to giving your best and to having fun. Explain that playing the game is like the cake and winning is like the frosting on top. It’s sweet, but the cake can be enjoyed without the frosting too.
Providing your child with opportunities to lose.
While it can be tempting to let your child win at board games and other games, don’t. When he genuinely wins, model how to lose gracefully and we he loses, guide him through losing gracefully by encouraging him to be a good sport.
Valuing good sportsmanship.
Teach your child to always say “congratulations” to the winner and to shake his hand. Explain the importance of not throwing a fit when you lose and not boasting when you win. Model good sportsmanship with you are watching games together and take the time to point out and explain when you see others displaying both good and bad sportsmanship.
Praising your child when he handles loss well.
Offer lots of positive purposeful praise when your child plays hard and handles loss well. A “Wow, you really ran hard after the ball. I’m so proud of you” will go a long way to lessen the sting of the loss.
Talking to your child about why he lost.
Talk openly about the game and experience. Teach your child that sometimes we lose because our skills aren’t as good as our opponents, sometimes we lose because of bad luck or a bad call, and sometimes we lose because we didn’t play our best. Giving rational reasoning for losing can help making losing less emotional.
Make an effort to teach your child to lose gracefully. If you do, your child and those who play, coach and teach him will thank you.