No one enjoys losing. Being disappointed when you’ve lost a race or at a board game is a common and natural reaction for young children. However, if your primary school-going child throws a tantrum or quits halfway when losing, you may need to step in.

Here are four things you can do to help your child be a gracious loser and even cheer others on when playing with friends or family.

Always be polite

Your child will notice your reaction when winning or losing, and how you respond when you just lost the card game will make a definite impression on your child. As a parent, modelling good sportsmanship will have a positive impact. For example, when you win, be humble and compliment the other team for not giving up and trying their best. If you are on the losing side, congratulate the winner, say “well done” or “good game”, and then share how you enjoyed playing the game together.

Play team or cooperative games

Cooperative games—games where players work together to achieve a common goal—can be a good way to do away with winning and losing, and gives your child a chance to experience playing on a team. Try cooperative board games or take the competition out of the game by not keeping score. This can take the pressure of competition off your child, provide a sense of camaraderie, and even build family bonds.

Praise your child’s efforts

Cheer your child on for the effort put into training for that swimming competition or any acts of good sportsmanship.

If your focus is instead on the number of goals scored, or the number of chess games your child has won, then your child will learn that winning is what really matters. Instead of saying “Well done for coming in first,” you can say “I’m so proud of the effort you put into training, or “I really like how you congratulated the other team for winning.”

Have post-game conversations

Take the opportunity after a game to direct your child’s focus to improving a skill or enjoying the fun in a game. Don’t compare your child to other children or players, and instead praise his or her effort and avoid just focusing on winning results.

Bear in mind that the feelings of loss and disappointment can be overwhelming for children. Don’t be in the hurry to just brush those feelings aside. Try to let them know that it is alright to be frustrated or upset about losing. Slowly, with your guidance and over time, your child can learn to be a gracious loser and a humble winner.

Tags: Child Education