Is your child a sore loser?
For years this was a BIG sticking point for my family, little did I know it was so easy to change once I knew how.
First, don’t teach, lecture or tell off the ‘bad loser.’
As, you may well already know this course of action never goes well.
So, what NOT to do.
- Don’t tell them to calm down, or not be upset. Allow them to be upset. You can’t change someone’s feelings by telling them not to feel the way they are.
2. Don’t add fuel to the fire. When your child is upset, first calm the whole situation down. Remember no learning is happening when you or your child is triggered.
3. In that moment don’t teach them the rules of the game, (they already know!); don’t tell them ‘you’re cheating’(they know!); don’t make them feel worse than they already do. Believe it or not, your child doesn’t want to be feeling or acting like this.
Whenever my daughter was pitching a fit, I used to have my mum’s voice in my head telling me… “Being a sore loser isn’t doing her any favours. You have to teach her to lose well, or no one is going to want to play with her.”
And she’s right, no one wants their child to be ostracised by their friends, the one who cheats when she’s losing, or the one who always abandons the game halfway through.
It’s important to intervene. It’s all in how to respond that gets us the results we want.
The Language of Listening®, the coaching model I use and teach, taught me a new way to ‘see’ what was really going on and the best way to support my daughter.
My lightbulb moment
Now my mum would tell me that kids ‘need’ to learn that you don’t always win, and that life’s not fair…Yes, I know.
Stay with me here,
Our goal is to teach our children to lose gracefully but first they need the chance to feel successful, and that it’s possible for them to win.
I’ve often heard the advice to not let your child win as you’ll only reinforce that she can’t handle losing.
I look at it differently.
I have every faith my child can handle her emotions and reactions; I know she can learn to lose gracefully. There must be something in her way.
It was this: How can you win ‘well’ if you never get a chance to win. Ever?
My daughter was the more reactive one, the one who was ‘told’ off more, who didn’t often get to feel successful. She never got a chance to feel the delight of winning. Of course, she wouldn’t be happy if others won as she never did. Of course she would try everything to ‘win.’
This is how I turned things around.
I started to play “mummy rules” games with my daughter. These were games that we played, just the two of us. It was set up in an ‘over the top way,’ where she knewshe could change the rules at the last minute, she could “cheat”and laugh and win ‘over’ me.
We played silly card games, ridiculous football in the garden, and I took her to play crazy golf where we made up the rules as we went. We didn’t keep score, and we laughed and joked the whole time round the course. She knew this was our special game time.
Our children are clever. They know that the rules you play together aren’t the same when they play with others.
You’re not bending the rules for her in a ‘normal’ game.
You’re not letting her win in family games.
You’re not trying to make her happy in the moment while you’re playing at ‘normal’ times.
You are watching her learn what it feels like to win… (even if it’s silly “mummy rules”) so she then can go on to lose… Happily.
How do I know this works?
A few weeks later my in-laws came to stay and guess what? We played crazy golf. And this time, she played ‘by the rules,’ keeping score for everyone. She came last, and she didn’t care! She’d learnt to lose graciously by learning what it felt like to win.
If you need help with a turning a sore loser into a team player, let’s chat. You can schedule a complimentary, no-obligation call. You can do that by clicking right here.