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Teaching Kids About Winning and Losing
Teaching Kids About Winning and Losing

We all want our children to be competitive and work hard for goals. However, if your kids have to win to be happy, they’re going to spend most of their lives feeling miserable. There are billions of people in the world, and we can’t all win at the same time. That’s why it’s so important to teach kids early about healthy competition and how to be gracious when they win and lose. Here’s how:

  • Encourage cooperation along with competition. When your kids are little, instead of setting up sibling rivalries with challenges like, “Let’s see which one of you can get dressed first”, try something like, “Let’s see if you can help each other get dressed and beat the timer so you’re both dressed when the timer goes off.” That way, your kids are competing against the clock and cooperating with each other at the same time.
  • Start small. When your kids are between 3 and 4 years old, play small games that go by quickly and have a back and forth between the winner and the loser, such as tic-tac-toe and rock-paper-scissors. That way, your child gets used to winning and losing, and the sting of losing is quite reduced. When someone loses, make sure he/she says, “Good for you,” and when someone wins, make sure he/she says, “Nice try.” At 4 or 5, have the games get longer with board games like Sorry and Chutes and Ladders. Then by 6,7, and 8, your kids are ready for serious competition and bigger sports because they have practice at winning and losing.
  • Emphasize the importance of practice. If your child is not doing well in school, encourage him/her to study harder, find a study group, ask for more help at school, or get a tutor, not whine about the school or the teacher, or feel dumb and give up. When the going gets tough, your kids need to get going, put in effort, make progress, and learn to work hard at something they want. Whether it’s guitar, swimming, dance, or chess, they have to practice, practice, practice!
  • Reframe losing as part of the game. There is no losing without somebody winning, and there is no winning without somebody losing - that’s just the way it is. And sometimes there are variables you can’t control. Some people are simply born with certain bodies or aptitudes for certain things. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t try to make the most of what you have.

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Tags: Attitude, Behavior, Parenting, Personal Responsibility, Stupid Things Parents Do to Mess Up Their Kids, Tips
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