No one likes losing, especially children.
But like it or not, all of us will have to deal with failures at one point or another in life.
Therefore, it makes sense that you try to teach your child to lose from a young age.
The earlier it is for kids to learn about defeats, the better for them to handle the loss gracefully.
1. Encourage your kids to focus on the progress, not the result only
There is a difference between praising your kids for their efforts and praising your kids for their final result.
If you say “Congratulations on getting the highest mark in this English contest!” your kids are more likely to establish a competitive nature.
While competitiveness is critical to the mental development of a child, it also fuels the “I have to win” mindset.
As a result, children can turn sour when they are confronted with loss.
Next time, you should commend kids on how they have tried their best during the game or the test. You can practice the following sentences.
“You have managed to solve this problem in such a logical way!”
“I love it when you stopped in the middle of the running track to help your friend.”
“I think your painting exudes creativeness. Good job on the color combination!”
When your kids are praised for the work they have put in during the game, it will prevent them from focusing solely on the outcome.
2. Pay attention to other aspects of the games instead of winning or losing
While winning brings a sense of satisfaction, there is more to life than just the final result.
You can apply the same philosophy when your kids are about to enter a game, or when they want to register for a competition.
If they win, then fantastic! Congratulations!
But if they lose, do not forget to teach them that other things matter as well.
It is whether they have put 100% effort into their work or not.
It is whether they have tried to assist their teammates when needed.
It is whether they have followed the rules of the game.
Also, losing can allow kids to step back and reflect on what they have done. A lesson about cooperation skills, principles, and sportsmanship can be learned through defeats.
3. Tell your kids that it is normal to have negative feelings towards losing
Some parents blame their child for getting upset when losing a game.
However, stressing out about these uncomfortable emotions will not help children overcome them!
Even adults tend to act out when things do not happen the way they want them to be, so how can you expect small kids to bottle up their reactions?
Instead, teach your kid that it is understandable for them to feel bitter, disappointed, or unhappy.
Humans are designed to claim the treats of being a winner. When we fail to do so, most of us will feel let down. Help your kids to understand this by the following sentences.
“It is okay for you to cry. I know you are feeling unwell now.”
“Don’t worry. When I was your age, I lost my first soccer game too. I remember being so sad about it that I couldn’t even eat for a few days.”
“Hey, last year when my favorite tennis player lost the championship, I felt bad too. There is nothing wrong with you being miserable now. ”
When you validate the negative feelings for your kids, it is a good head start to help guide them through the depressed state after a loss.
4. Guide your kids to vent out their anger in a healthy manner
Once you have reassured your kid that it is perfectly okay to be blue and angry, it is time you taught them to deal with these emotions.
Allowing temper tantrums when your kids yell and cry in public is undoubtedly off the chart. Instead, tell them there are better ways to express their sorrow.
You can give children some “me-time” when they are left alone. Do not disturb them. Let kids embrace their feelings for a while.
Or you can offer your kids a shoulder to cry on, literally. Crying does not mean they are weak. Give your kids a chance to sob in private.
Another option for your kids to vent out their anger is to resort to physical exertion. Running, swimming, jumping ropes, you name it. Anything for your child to get their head off the loss!
5. Give your kids compliments when they handle their failures properly
If your kids can be friendly towards the winning opponents, it means they have tried their very best to uphold the sportsmanship value.
You would want them to keep practicing this good habit, wouldn’t you?
The best way for children to continue handling a loss well is to receive encouragement from their parents.
The next time you see your kids shaking hands with the winner, or congratulating their rivals, do not forget to praise them for being respectful and civil.
“I think you did a great job today. And so did the other team! I’m glad that you two get on well even after the game.”
“I’m really proud of you. Not many kids can show such an appropriate manner towards their opponents.”
“Even if you did not win the game, I think you have left a lasting impression on everyone by being kind and nice.”
“How adult-like of you when you complimented your rival on receiving the trophy!”
6. Examine the reasons why your kids lose
A helpful strategy you can implant after seeing your kids lose is to talk about it.
There are many reasons contributing to such a defeat.
Instead of sitting and whining about it, analyzing what has gone wrong will give children an insight into their own performances.
Maybe it is because your kids did not try hard enough.
Or their opponents were more familiar with the format of the test.
There could be a chance that your kids lost because of external factors like their health, their mood, or the faulty grading system/adjudicators.
Either way, rationally talking about failures will lift the emotional burden off children’s shoulders.
Also, such a logical conversation will be a driving force for your kids to understand their pros and cons. Thus, they will have better preparation for the next competition!
7. Give your kids the chance to lose
Some parents are afraid to hurt their kids’ feelings, so they let children win on purpose.
But do you want your kids to grow up, thinking they are invincible?
Giving kids a “set up” victory will help you avoid their temper tantrums for the time being. But it is not a healthy coping mechanism.
Many lessons can only be learned through losing. You are blocking your child’s developing path if you do not let them fail once in a while.
Remember, there is no need to be aggressive in a family game. Just put up your typical performance and let your kids experience what it feels like to get defeated.
8. Do not get riled up at your kids when they lost a game
Many parents make the mistake of being annoyed at small kids when they cannot win a game.
Some believe that showing a stern attitude will help children realize that they need to put in the extra effort next time.
However, scientists have pointed out that yelling at kids will leave detrimental effects on their well-being.
When it comes to failure, in particular, kids are generally not equipped to deal with negative emotions such as disappointment or anger.
At such sensitive moments, children are already feeling bad enough. They do not need their parents to add more fuel to the fire.
Seeing their parents handling loss in such a bitter manner will reinforce the misconception. Kids themselves can be a sore loser (because that is what their parents are!)
Thus, do your children a favor and practice being a reasonable parent.
If you see your kids lose a game, it does not help to rant about “how you could have won if you had run a bit faster!”
Instead, let’s be understanding and sympathetic. Even if you feel disappointed, it is better to hide your feelings in public.
You can also comfort your children by showing them winning or losing does not matter that much to you.
“I do indeed feel a bit sad that you cannot top the game today. But you have done your best, and it is the only thing that matters!”
“Oh, trust me. I don’t feel let down at your defeats. Not at all. I mean, you cannot win all the time, right? Just take it easy.”
“I and your mom/dad really wanted you to win. But that does not mean we feel angry at you for losing.”
Practicing being a graceful loser is no easy task. It is even more challenging to teach your kid to lose.
But if you do not help your kids learn the value of failures, they will miss out on a lot of things in life!