Watching your child face disappointment is always rough, but it's particularly hard when they don't know how to manage the feelings that come with losing. Getting a handle on anger and frustration is a difficult task for any person, but for children, especially those in their younger years, regulating these emotions can feel almost impossible.
Thankfully, parents can do something to help. By teaching your child to cope with disappointment, they can stop being a sore loser and start exuding great sportsmanship.
It's completely normal to feel disappointed after losing, provided it's expressed appropriately. Teach your child that hitting, kicking, or saying mean words aren't acceptable after a loss, but it is okay to feel sad.
You can help them get through this moment and give them the confidence to try again by talking through their feelings with them.
It's important for children to know that, in some cases, losing isn't a result of their skills or abilities, but instead, it's up to chance. Help them better understand that by explaining the concept of luck and showing them games, such as those with dice or cards, that can't be won with skill.
A family game night is a great way to introduce your child to the feelings associated with losing and help them practice appropriate ways to express them.
Select games of chance to give them an equal opportunity to win or lose so they have a chance to experience the highs and the lows in a healthy way with a good support system.
It's important to celebrate your child's successes in life. In fact, celebrating little wins can improve your child's self-esteem .
That said, it's just as important not to go over the top. Teaching your child to gloat or that winning equates to elaborate rewards will make it that much harder—for everyone involved—when they lose.
At the end of a sports event or a game, teach your child to practice good sportsmanship by acknowledging the efforts of the other team or individual.
Whether they've won or lost, have them shake hands with their opponent and if the other side won, encourage them to offer congratulations.
When your child participates in sports or other activities that rely on their skill, reward them for their efforts instead of their wins.
Complimenting children on the hard work they've done or the good sportsmanship they've shown instead of the score at the end will improve their self-confidence and help them look forward to the next time they get to participate, not just the next time they win.
It's important to teach your children about feelings early in life. It can help them better recognize and understand their emotions, and learn how to express them appropriately.
Help them understand that every emotion is acceptable, encourage them to talk about their feelings often, and discuss ways to express those emotions in healthy and effective ways.
Helping your child learn and understand how to manage anger before it's out of control is crucial to giving them the tools they need to cope with loss.
Teach them coping strategies for when they feel angry, such as breathing, talking it out, or finding something else to focus on.
Want to learn more? Read Help Your Child Learn Anger Management.
When your children are young, it's tempting to let them win at everything to avoid seeing them unhappy. However, the only way they'll be able to learn to cope with losing is by actually experiencing it.
When your child does win, congratulate them. When they lose, give them the opportunity to practice being gracious and learning from their loss.
Children are a reflection of their parents. If you're a sore loser, chances are they will be too. Help your child learn good sportsmanship by modeling it yourself.
Congratulate others on wins at home or at work, be kind to others if they beat you at something, and don't gloat or take your celebrations too far when you do win.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.