Growing up in the community of competitive sports I have seen how poorly children, teenagers and adults behave when they lose. Some people lose gracefully and accept the fact that they have lost a game or match. Others, however, pout, scream and fight with their opponent. I believe learning from a young age “how to lose gracefully” can help children when they are older face similar outcomes.
Cary Cooper is a psychology professor at UMIST. He states, "The first thing you need to acknowledge about losing is that it is going to hurt." "Later on, you may be able to rationalize it, or logically explain why it happened, but the first reaction is going to be a bad one - whether it's tears, anger or frustration. It's important to let these feelings out - as long as you manage them correctly."
Being a sore loser isn’t just about sports but also falls into other stages of a child’s development. When you give a child a trophy it shouldn’t be about whether they participated or not. Children should receive another form of participating an event but not be given the same gratification as someone who has won a competition.
Teaching children from a young age that it’s okay not to be the best or not to win all the time can help with their academic as well. If you don’t do your best at a game…get up and try again, and again until you’re satisfied with your work. Losing a game and failing an assignment isn’t a negative lesson. It shows the child how to accept bumps in the road and continue until they reach their goals.
I remember when I was younger and my team was in the state championship, the ball had come to me and I hit it out of bounds causing us to lose the game. I was so upset while the other team cheered. I cost us the state championship. However, I looked back and all of my success as a player. There were games that I scored the winning point and got my team to the championship. I had really good days and really bad days but the only thing that truly matters was how I carried myself on BOTH days.
Of course, everyone wants to be the number one and become a huge success. But when dealing with young children you should shift the focus from winning to doing your best and having fun with competitive games. Be honest with your children about the experience of competition and give them a goal to reach.
Put emphasis on doing your best. Don’t let your children win a board game just because you want them too. Teach them how to lose and how to accept the fact of not being the best yet. Help guide them with potential new strategies or praise them when they handle a loss well. Make an effort to teach them how to lose gracefully. I guarantee their friends, teammates and coaches will thank you.