What to say to your child when they lose.
Do you ever find it hard or uncomfortable knowing what to say to your child when they lose in a sports competition? I know my parents did. My parents wouldn’t talk to me when I would lose. I grew up thinking that they weren’t proud of me if I didn’t win. After I grew up, I asked them about this and they said, “we thought you wanted to be alone after you lost”. What did I know? I was 10 years old. I desperately needed my parents to say, “it’s ok, we still love you and we think you did a great job”.
When you are a child competing in sports it is very easy to assume that everyone is counting on you. If you mess up, you let down your parents, coaches, teammates and friends. That may sound melodramatic, but it is true. Children don’t have a natural ability to separate who they are from their performance. When they have a bad game they see themselves as a bad person or as a failure. This only increases the pressure for them to do good and when there is pressure to perform, it takes the fun out of the sport.
Knowing what to say to your child when they lose in a sports competition can be extremely difficult. It all depends on the child’s age, level of competition and the relationship you have with your child. My recommendation is to remain positive and point out any and all good aspects of their game. Notice how hard they tried, good plays, good sportsmanship, and a good attitude about trying their best. Ask your child if they had fun. When they say “no, because I lost” give them the opportunity to identify what they did right. So many lessons can be taught when they lose in a sports competition. Help them to view losing as a learning tool for when they compete next time. If the parents can keep winning and losing in perspective, their child will grow up with a healthy sense of self. Help your child to see that their self worth is not based on the outcome of a competition. You have the power. You are their parents.