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No athlete enjoys losing. But it is inevitable, and teaching your child how to lose properly is just as important as teaching manners, honesty and responsibility. Your child can learn to accept losing and then grow from the experience. Here’s how you can help them:
Give your child space.
Sometimes, it is best to let your child lose in peace. This means not trying to make them feel better when they are not ready to receive it, and not pestering them with questions or feeling like you must offer platitudes to make them feel better.
Let your child know that you understand losing is hard. Let them know that you feel their pain and love them, regardless of the game’s outcome. Tell them it’s okay to be angry, but no one wins all the time, even stars and champions.
Talk with your child about losing.
When your child is ready, help them see that losing can provide an opportunity for growth. Asking questions like, “what did you learn from the loss?” and “what would you do different next time?” will help your child process the loss and learn from the experience.
Find the small victories.
Once you’ve commiserated with your child, ask them to think of a couple of small victories they had, despite the loss. Share the ones you noticed.
Share your own losses and frustrations.
Kids need to know that we all experience disappointment. Your kids are watching closely. How you handle it sends a strong message to them. There’s a good chance that how you handle it will be how your child handles it too.
Look for role models.
When you watch sports together, discuss the good and bad behavior of pro and college athletes.
Encourage your child to congratulate others after the game.
Of course, most teams require the “good game, good game” line-up, but talk to your kids about taking that a step further by shaking the other coaches’ hands or complimenting an opponent.
Parents and coaches should teach young athletes that no competitor wins all the time. Your job is to help your athletes learn to deal with it constructively, growing through the experience.