Teaching Your Kids To Lose Gracefully

Tyler and I have been playing games most of his life. The one thing I decided early on was that I would not “let” him win. I want to teach him that there are winners and and there are losers. I want him to know that sometimes he’s going to be the winner and sometimes his opponent will win. That’s life.

Some games, like Candyland, are games of chance. So when we play he has the same odds of winning as I do. Other games, like basketball, are games of skill. When we play, I don’t go easy on him. I want him to play his best and if he scores more points than I do that’s great. If not, I expect him not to behave like a sore loser. Of course, that’s easier said than done. Many times when he loses a game, he will pout and say that he does not want to play anymore. Other times he will beg to play “one more game”, hoping that he will win the next games for sure.

The reverse is also true. When he wins, he has a tendency to gloat. Sometimes he will even go as far as doing a little dance, like the football players do in the endzone! I have tried to get him not to do that but you know how kids are.

If you play games with your kids often, you will have to deal with your kids losing and possibly not taking it so well. In the Summer 2006 issue of Wonder Time, a few suggestions on how to teach your children to lose gracefully are offered, including the following:

(1) Play games of chance to illustrate that sometimes winning depends on luck and not skill.
As I mentioned before, games like Candyland are games of chance. Snakes and Ladders and some card games are other examples.

(2) To make the loser feel okay about losing, agree before the game starts, that the loser will get a prize. For instance, picking the dessert for dinner. Don’t do this for every game, however.

(3) If your child is the loser, offer to play again. He still may not win, but at least he gets another chance to try.

(4) Make it a rule that the winner has to say, “Good game” to the loser.

(5) Focus on how well your child is improving in a given game and not on the fact that they lost.

See also:

Video Games Can Be Family Friendly

Game Night: It Doesn’t Have To Be Complicated

The Idiot’s Guide To Family Games