Raising a Good Loser - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Raising a Good Loser

By Patricia Berry, Studio One Networks

Does this scene sound familiar? You’ve taught your preschooler how to kick a soccer ball, and he’s proud of his newfound skill. Time after time you’ve let him score on you in the backyard -- and he loves to throw up his arms and yell “Goooo-al!” This time, however, you block his shot. The reaction is a full-out tantrum. The ball gets kicked into the shrubs, and the tears pour down. Are you raising a poor loser?

No way, says Richard Ginsburg, P.h.D., a faculty member of Harvard Medical School. But introducing the notion of competition -- whether the game is soccer or Go Fish -- interferes with him learning to play the game.

“Young children don’t even understand the concept of winning and losing until they are six or seven,” says Dr. Ginsburg, who also acts as co-director of Paces, a sports psychology institute run out of Massachusetts General Hospital. They can’t separate themselves from the wins and losses. In other words, a winning score indicates they’ve done something right and should feel good about themselves. A loss is catastrophic. It means they’ve messed up, something they should feel bad about.

“Toddlers and preschoolers just want to have fun, feel safe and feel good about their bodies,” he adds. Here are five tips to help keep your child’s head in the game and not on the scoreboard:

  • Breed success Games are easier for young children to learn when the experience is a positive one. Deal her a winning hand or pitch from four feet away -- whatever allows her to play successfully and hone her skills.

  • Play dumb If someone, an older child for instance, is keeping score, develop amnesia and draw attention to some other aspect of the game. Say something like, “I don’t remember the score, but didn’t it feel great when you caught that ball?” Heaping on the praise will help build your child’s self-esteem.

  • Reengage your player Keep the game moving so the focus is on having fun and building skills, not who’s on top. Even for young children, learning comes with repetition and practice.

  • Coach good behavior Occasionally, eagerness to play gets in the way of good behavior, but a meltdown in manners shouldn’t be confused with being a sore loser. If taking turns changes your child into a monster, the same talk you might have in the family room about sharing toys applies to the backyard ball game.

  • Model good sportsmanship From toddlerhood on up, your child is watching you for clues as to how to behave. Adults, not children, are the ones placing an emphasis on winning and losing, according to Dr. Ginsburg. The fact is, your child is going to suffer plenty of adversity with other people, so why not let her feel like a winner with you?

Copyright (c) 2009 Studio One Networks. All rights reserved.

About The Author: Patricia Berry Patricia Berry is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Working Mother, This Old House, New Jersey Life and The New York Times and has also served as an editorial consultant for the online resource, ClubMomem>.
  • Success by 6More>>

  • Michael Anderson Elementary Wins Book Drive School Challenge

    Michael Anderson Elementary Wins Book Drive School Challenge

    Tuesday, August 20 2013 1:08 PM EDT2013-08-20 17:08:44 GMT
    Michael Anderson Elementary on the Fairchild Air Force Base took the Challenge- so did Windsor Elementary in the Cheney School District. Their mission -to collect books for the Success By 6 Book Bank.>>
    Michael Anderson Elementary on the Fairchild Air Force Base took the Challenge- so did Windsor Elementary in the Cheney School District. Their mission -to collect books for the Success By 6 Book Bank.>>
  • Got A Pre-schooler? Pick Up a Kindergarten Readiness Calendar

    Got A Pre-schooler? Pick Up a Kindergarten Readiness Calendar

    Tuesday, August 7 2012 7:48 PM EDT2012-08-07 23:48:39 GMT
    Got a Pre-schooler? Pick up the Kindergarten Readiness Calendar at any local library! Getting ready for Kindergarten starts long before your child sets foot in their Kindergarten classroom! That's>>
    Got a Pre-schooler? Pick up the Kindergarten Readiness Calendar at any local library! Getting ready for Kindergarten starts long before your child sets foot in their Kindergarten classroom! >>
  • Young Children Learn from Everyday Life

    Young Children Learn from Everyday Life

    Wednesday, August 10 2011 12:26 PM EDT2011-08-10 16:26:51 GMT
    They say kids don't come with an instruction manual, yet parents, especially new parents are bombarded with all kinds of advice from friends and family. There are books and websites offering endless lists, tips and tricks for parenting.  Jill Johnson, Communications Specialist for Family Resources at Community-Minded Enterprises and Success by 6 Board Member says you can teach your children with simple, everyday activities.>>
  • Want Your Child to Love Learning? Let Them Play!

    Want Your Child to Love Learning? Let Them Play!

    Wednesday, February 9 2011 2:08 PM EST2011-02-09 19:08:57 GMT
    Want your Preschooler to Love Learning? Let them play! Gwendolyn Haley, Spokane County Library District Youth Services Manager, and Success By 6 Board Member, says playtime is the most important part of a preschooler's day.>>
  • Your Baby: 2 Months

    Your Baby: 2 Months

    Tuesday, March 13 2012 5:59 PM EDT2012-03-13 21:59:50 GMT
    Our Success By 6 Pediatrician, Dr. Mary Kay Wagner, host of our "Your Baby" series discusses the finer points of living with a 2 month old baby. >>
  • Your Baby: 4 Months

    Your Baby: 4 Months

    Tuesday, March 13 2012 6:19 PM EDT2012-03-13 22:19:00 GMT
    Our Success By 6 Pediatrician, Dr. Mary Kay Wagner, gives parents an idea of what they can expect of their 4 month old baby.>>
  • Your Baby: Six Months

    Your Baby: Six Months

    Tuesday, March 13 2012 6:46 PM EDT2012-03-13 22:46:36 GMT
    Our Success By 6 Pediatrician, Dr. Mary Kay Wagner, says child proofing the house is a priority in a house with a six month old baby.>>
  • What Book is just right for your New Reader?

    What Book is just right for your New Reader?

    Thursday, July 21 2011 4:31 PM EDT2011-07-21 20:31:53 GMT
    What book is just right for your new reader? Mary Ellen Braks, a Youth Services Manager with  the Spokane County Library District says it's an exciting time when your child is starting to learn how to read.>>
*DISCLAIMER*: The information contained in or provided through this site section is intended for general consumer understanding and education only and is not intended to be and is not a substitute for professional advice. Use of this site section and any information contained on or provided through this site section is at your own risk and any information contained on or provided through this site section is provided on an "as is" basis without any representations or warranties.