My daughter started soccer this year. Her team was far from being the reigning soccer champions, however each little girl received a shiny new trophy. Now, I am not against the whole “everyone receives a trophy” thing. I think it is exciting for the kids and it makes for a cute little keepsake. However, I do think that this creates a unique situation. Because they are so accustomed to winning, we have to teach our children how to react when they lose.
I realized that I had a situation on my hands a couple of months ago while the kids and I were out on our daily walk. My daughter and son decided that they would race the last little stretch home. My son ran as fast as his little legs could carry him and ended up touching our garage door seconds before my daughter.
When my daughter realized that she had lost this epic race, she lost her mind. She threw a fit that would rival that of a two-year-old. There were tears and drama. Oh so much drama. Four-year-old girls can be quite dramatic, in case you didn’t already know.
It was then that I had a lightbulb moment. My daughter had never really lost at anything, and it is my job as the parent to teach her how to lose gracefully. We started implementing a few new parenting strategies in order to help her understand the importance of practicing good sportsmanship.
1. We no longer let her win all the time at board games. This doesn’t mean that we always bring our A game to Candyland. However, we don’t let her win every single time. When she loses, she can work through the emotions of not winning in the privacy of our own home.
2. We explained that everyone has different talents. It takes all kinds of people and all kinds of talents to make the world go round. We explained to her that she is awesome at a lot of things. We also told her that there might be circumstances in life where someone is better at something than she is, and that is okay. No one can be the best at everything.
3. We started teaching her to be happy for other people’s accomplishments. Being happy for another person’s accomplishment can be as easy as saying “good game” to someone after a game. It can also be as simple as being proud of a little brother who ran his little tail off to beat you home.
4. We explained that it is okay to be sad and disappointed when you lose, however it is never okay to be a poor sport. It is never okay to call someone a name, throw a fit, or pout just because you did not win.
Good sportsmanship is still something that we are working on. This is a hard lesson for children to learn as losing can be a very emotional thing for them. (Hey, this can be a hard thing for adults as well. We’ve all seen those parents at little league games, right?) However, I am hoping we are making improvements.
Now if we are out and about and you see my kids racing home, hopefully you will no longer witness the drama and tears when someone realizes that they have landed themselves in second place.