Nobody likes to lose. It doesn’t feel good, and in an effort to protect our kids from the sting of losing, it can be tempting to let them win, or give out participation trophies and throwaway awards such as “Most Improved” just to make sure everyone goes away feeling like a winner. However, this isn’t real life. It is impossible to avoid losing forever, and when it inevitably happens, some kids are so ill- equipped to handle the loss that it can seem devastating, like it’s a personal insult or even an injustice that they didn’t win. Want to make sure this doesn’t happen to your child? The best thing you can do is to teach them to be a good loser – and here’s how.
Give them lots of chances…to lose.
When teaching kids to lose with grace, it is first vital to show them that no one person can be the best at everything. Different people have different skill levels in sports, numbers, art, words, and so on. Exposing your kids to a variety of situations that let them show off their best skills and also challenge their other abilities is important in getting them to understand that while they may lose some games, they also shine at others – it’s all about balance.
So fill your kid’s time with a good variety of activities – a family Pictionary tournament one day, a spelling bee challenge among friends the next, a futsal class with certified coaches over the weekend, and so on. This variety will help them learn about their strengths and weaknesses, and how to make the most of what they have.
Praise the process
Okay, so you’ve got them into the activity – the next step is to pay attention to the process as well as the outcome. It can be discouraging for a kid to notice that they are not performing well, but if you keep things positive and offer lots of praise for the progress they are making, they will find that they can take pride in achievements besides the final score.
This is not the same as saying “there are no winners or losers” – in a game where there is a set of rules and a score, there will inevitably be someone who wins and someone who loses. Rather, it is about encouraging your kid to appreciate their achievements regardless of who wins. It comes in the form of statements like “Wow, that lion you drew is so realistic..let’s put it up on the fridge!” or “What a strong shot!”…even if the ball doesn’t go in the goal.
Talk it over rationally, but with empathy
Once the final score is announced, your child may be sad or angry about losing – these are certainly natural emotions that should be validated. Empathise with them, saying that you understand how they feel. Say you too would feel sad if you gave something your all but didn’t see the results you were hoping for. Help them to come up with a rational explanation for why they lost – it could be pure luck, or it could be that someone else was just better at a particular skill.
Then, redirect them to think about the things they did well this time round, and what they can do in the future to improve their performance. Show that you support them by offering to help them practice the skills they would like to improve – for example, taking them to the park to practice dribbling the ball before their next futsal class, or doing flash cards before their next spelling bee showdown.
Model good sportsmanship
Your child looks to you to model how to behave, both as a winner and as a loser. So, always show good sportsmanship and encourage your child to do the same. When your child wins, teach them to display good behaviours like complimenting the losing party on something they did well. At the same time, make sure they avoid unpleasant behaviours like over-celebrating or gloating. And when your child loses, always insist that they shake hands and say “good game”. When they do, don’t forget to praise them for being a good sport!
So, while we all want our kids to be winners, it is equally important to teach them to be good losers too. Only then can they go through life and take whatever comes their way like the true champions they are!
Team sports like futsal are a great way to teach your kids to celebrate both wins and losses like a champ! Contact us today for a FREE trial futsal class!