Pre-schoolers are competitive by nature, and it is not surprising to see your child looking dejected each time he/she loses.
According to Eileen Kennedy-Moore, Ph.D., co-author of Smart Parenting for Smart Kids, kids aged four and above are starting to figure out the concept of winning, so naturally they will compete over almost anything.
“They’re not always sure about the complexities of winning and losing, but they do understand that winning is good, so they want to win at everything,” she affirms.
As parents, you might see your child’s competitive streak as a good thing, but this could get out of hand when he/she does not seem to be able to lose gracefully. Although their peers may hate losing as much as they do, the presence of a sore loser is not a welcomed addition during playdates or when they get together.
If your kids have the tendency to throw fits and tantrums each time they lose, you might want to step in to help them cope with their losses. Take the time to explain to them that winning is not everything, and instil these important life lessons that they can learn when they lose:
1. It’s the experience that counts
It is inevitable that kids hope to come in first place when playing board games with their friends, taking tests and exams in school or participating in competitions. When they get discouraged with the results, you can encourage them by shifting the focus towards enjoying the act of participating. By focusing on the process rather than the end results, your child will gradually learn to enjoy the challenge, excitement, and the effort put in for that given task or activity.
2. Learning to cope better
It might take time for your child to get used to the idea that winning is not everything, but you can help him/her deal with losing better by “practicing” at home. Christine Carter, Director of the parenting programme at the University of California-Berkeley’s The Greater Good Science Center, says that kids who have practice losing will eventually learn how to be good sports. “If they don’t lose, they’re being set up to not be able to cope,” she emphasises.
You can help your child lose gracefully in all situations by setting him/her up on a challenge at home. Find out more on the next page…