Many will say that you can't enjoy the win, until you have experienced what it's like to lose. Losing is a normal part of life. Learning to lose doesn't always come so easily though. As sports parents, we have seen this play out time and time again. Kids in particular don't tend to take a loss as graciously as they should. It's hard on their tender feelings, and without a good amount of maturity and proper guidance, they won't learn the art of losing skillfully.
Luckily, there are a few practical steps we can take as parents, to ensure that our boys and girls learn how to lose gracefully.
Provide your child with the opportunity to partake in a competitive situation. As parents, our instinct is to protect our kids, but keeping them from the probability of real rivalry, or worse, letting them win, will only make the inevitable loss at some point in life, that much more difficult to manage. Make sure they know that the possibility to not come out the victor is very real. The best way to do this is for them to prepare to the best of their abilities for the match, and give it their all.
EMBRACING THE PROCESS
The journey can oftentimes be more rewarding than the destination. It may not be fully understood by a young person at first, but learning to love the process can be the key to handle loss. Have your child to focus on reaching small goals in their training. Achieving those milestones can be gratifying in themselves. So the team didn't win the World Series? What about the amazing defensive play that he or she mastered in the bottom of the 8th? Or that goal blocked in the 3rd period? All very valuable contributions, and stand alone wins that are worthy of celebration. Regardless of the overall outcome, possessing confidence in their own abilities, can go a long way in losing with decorum.
This one may sting at first, but it's likely the most effective way to show grace when losing. This is where we as parents can lead by example. They are watching when we offer kudos to the other team for a job well done. Show them that in sports as in life, it's important to be happy for others, even when they claim a victory against us. Their first emotion may be jealousy, but this is a great opportunity to teach them to fight through those inklings, and handle a loss with dignity.
LOSING CAN BE A GOOD THING
Your child will be in a vulnerable state after defeat, but this is the perfect time to introduce them to the bright side. Explain to them how valuable it can be fail. Now he or she will know what to work on, what to improve, or how to approach the situation next time. Learning from our mistakes is one of the most apparent signs of growing up.
Make a mental list of their accomplishments in the game. They can be so focused on the end result that they may not recall any positive aspects in their performance. Praise them for the improvements they have made, and for taking positive steps in reaching their goals. Bonus points if you have videos!
Learning to lose gracefully will make your child a better teammate, a better friend, and a better human being. It will be tough, but they will come out of it stronger, wiser, and with a new determination to succeed.
What are some other ways we can teach our kids to lose gracefully?
Barbara is the mom behind the blog, Modern Sports Mom. She began writing a craft and lifestyle blog in 2012. As life evolved, and her boys became more involved in sports, she aimed to create a site that would resonate with moms like her, and in 2017 Modern Sports Mom was born. A baseball and football mom, she is fueled by her strong faith, dedication to her family, and coffee. Lots and lots of coffee! Barbara lives in beautiful Southern California with her husband, kids, dog, and cat.