Winning and losing are skills that everyone has to learn.  You aren’t born a gracious winner, just like you aren’t born a gracious loser.  It takes being in different scenarios of winning and losing to master these skills of winning and losing.  

When is it a concern when your child is completely focused on winning, and doesn’t know how to lose?  Most of the time by school age.  If your preschooler is obsessed with winning, that is normal.  And usually isn’t harmful to their social skills or social circle of friends.  Preschoolers are just learning the concept of winning and losing. Once in school though, if all your child wants to do is win and isn’t very kind when they do, it can cause trouble with friends at school or in the neighborhood.  

Competitiveness is different from child to child.  Some kids have a more competitive nature than other children.  These competitive children are usually goal setters, who can set their minds to something they are willing to do until they achieve.  Other children who become competitive due to their parents being overly competitive.  This is not always a bad thing as long as winning and losing are being role modeled effectively to the child.  Competitiveness can also be a sign of insecurity or fear.  If your child thinks they have to win to get your attention or praise, it can cause them to be consumed by the thought of winning everything.  This can negatively affect their self esteem and confidence.  Sore losers will not try new games or activities if they think they won’t win.  

When playing a game with your child, if you know they struggle with winning and losing, be upfront with them about the games you are playing.  Tell them that the game has a winner and a loser.  Tell them that it is ok if they don’t win, and discuss how not winning can make you feel.  You can be sad or frustrated when you don’t win, it’s how you handle your emotions that can make you a gracious loser or a gracious winner.  You playing games with your child and showing them how to win and lose can be the best model your child will ever have.  If your child wants to bail every time they aren’t winning in a game don’t let them.  Winning and losing are normal events, so treat them as such.  If your child wins, congrats and move on.  Making a big parade or circus when they win and being all disappointed if they lose, will cause them to only want to win and not know you love them if they don’t.  

If your child only plays a game if they win, you can nicely tell them you are here to play with them when they are ready to win or lose.  You don’t always have to let your child win.  You should play equally at their level.  When you play games together praise them for things they do well while playing, not whether they win or lose.  

Younger siblings will want to challenge older siblings.  This is because younger siblings will want to try competition in a safe environment like their house with their family.  Though the competition isn’t evenly balanced the younger sibling doesn’t always mind.  Be careful as a parent you don’t compare the two children in these competitions since their skills can vary with age difference.  Comparing children can also cause sibling rivalries.  When playing games as a family it is important to remind the family that everyone is winning, if everyone is having fun.  You don’t play to win, you play to spend time together and to enjoy each other.  Family games that are group effort games can also help curb competition within the family.

If you have a child who likes competition, a great way to help with that is to have them compete against their personal past scores.  This can be a race against their best time.  You can time them with a stopwatch.  This can teach them that winning is beating your very best, and you can always have room to improve.  

Everyone needs practice to win and lose graciously.  It is great to help your child learn to lose and win kindly.  Teach them how to control their emotions if they lose, and show them how to still be kind when they lose.  Let them know that being disappointed is ok, but throwing a temper tantrum is not.  Winning nicely is just as important as not being a sore loser.  Role modeling both for your child will help them learn to do the same. 




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