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How to Help Your Kids Lose

September 9, 2010

In my last post I talked about why losing is so important.  Today, I am offer some ideas about how to help your kids learn to lose.

  • Play real games.  Candyland, tennis, Old Maid, Chutes and Ladders, basketball.  These are all games that have true winners and losers.  Include these games in your family time; along with activities where simply participating is the key (bike riding, painting, skateboarding, hiking, reading).
  • Talk about the potential outcomes ahead of time.  For kids who aren’t accustomed to losing, it may be helpful to “prep” them on what to expect.  For example, “Angie, when we play Candyland one of us is going to win, and one is going to lose. “
  • Be a good sport. Kids learn from their parents, even if it doesn’t always seem like it.  Monitor your own winning and losing behaviors.  Limit (or totally eliminate) your own bragging, complaining, and whining if this is what you expect from your kids.
  • Let them pout. If losing is new to your kids, they may take it hard at first.  They may cry, pout, or act out.  After a few initial words of comfort (“You really gave some great effort” or “I know it didn’t end up how you wanted but I had a great time playing with you.”) give your kids space to feel the frustration of losing.

Losing is tough, but it is something we all need to learn to cope with as we make our way through the world.  Teaching your kids to lose (and win!) with grace and light-heartedness will serve them well as their games get more complex and competitive.

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