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How To Teach Children To Be Gracious When They Don’t Win

By: Krystle Crossman

Children love to win. It doesn’t matter what game they are playing, if they win, they are very excited and not afraid to show it. But what happens when your child loses a game? Do they accept it and move on quickly or are they like my son, throwing a fit and refusing to play anymore games? Letting them win is not going to teach them anything but you can teach them to be a gracious loser instead of a sore sport. Here are some tips on how to do just that.

1. Put the thought of winning on the back burner. Instead encourage them with praise on their skill or technique during a certain game, and have their friends or siblings ask if they had fun playing the game instead of asking who won. With winning out of their minds they will be able to concentrate on and be happy with the skills that they have.

2. Have your child think about how they would feel if someone they were playing a game with lost and started to cry or throw a temper tantrum. Make them really think about it and if you have to, give them a little example next time you play a game together and lose.

3. Teach your child not only about their behavior when they lose, but about their behavior when they win too. My son will jump up and giddily cry “Haha, I win, you lose, I win, na na na na na”. It is explained to him that this is not acceptable behavior and that when you win you are supposed to shake hands and say “good game” like the sports teams do on television.

4. Play games that emphasize cooperation and not competition. Have them see how long they can keep a balloon from falling on the ground by hitting it to each other. This way they are not competing against each other, there is no winning or losing, and they will want to keep trying to work together to get even better.

If you find that these tips do not work and your child still goes into a rage every time they lose then perhaps games should stop for a while until they can learn that their behavior is not appropriate. Allow one game a week and if they throw a tantrum, don’t play the next week. Eventually they will learn to be a good sport.

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