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How To Teach Your Children To Lose Gracefully

Updated on October 15, 2010

We can't all win all the time. Teaching a child this is an important social skill and should be learned early. We want our children to strive to do their best and at the same time, accept that sometimes it doesn't mean we will win but that there is always next time.

Ways To Teach A Toddler To Lose Gracefully

A toddler is at the perfect age to begin to learn to group games and that winning is great, but it is not everything.

  • Winning is great but there is always second place!

If you are playing a game with your toddler and it is just the two of you. Do not allow them to win every game. Playing fairly against them with just a little assistance teaches them to think and contemplate how to really play a game. Memory games, Chutes and Ladders, Candy Land, and Don't Break the Ice are great starter games.

You may find that they do quite well without you having to play down your game. My daughter for instance can beat anyone in our house at Memory Game. She doesn't win every-time, but more then not she does.

We make a big deal when she wins. When she doesn't win, we still make a big deal that someone else one, and then we congratulate my daughter that she got second place. We make it so that It's not I win and you lose, but I win and YAH! You got second place.

  • Teach your toddler that they'll get it the next time.

Empahsize that even if they didn't win or if they got second place, that you bet they are going to win really soon.

Things To Avoid When Trying To Teach Losing Gracefully

  • Do not start stressing to them what they could have done to win.

Your child already feels bad, even if you mean the best by it, trying to tell them what they could or should have done does not help the situation. Instead, wait for a later time when they are in a better mood if you feel you have positive constructive criticism to give.

  • Never get angry when they've lost

You didn't win everything either, don't have expectations that they will.

  • Do not offer treats or gifts for winning, and hold them back if they lose

You child is under enough pressure, doing this will cause even more and make them feel that when they lose they do not have your approval

Ways To Teach A School Age Child To Lose Gracefully

The tips above can apply to older children as well. In addition to those...

  • Congratulate what they accomplished

There team may not have won the soccer game, but emphasizing the amazing plays will build up your child's moral and self confidence. They feel awful that they lost, but they can feel good about what a great pass they made or goal they scored.

  • Talk to them about you own loses and how you still loved what you did anyway

Give you children examples of when you've been in their situation can make them see that they are not the only person that has ever lost a game or competition. Talk about times you lost something in your youth and how upset you felt, but how you still loved playing anyway.

  • Encourage them to congratulate others

If the other person or team always won, then that would mean someone else lost. Reminding them that whoever they lost to doesn't always win either and that they should be congratulated on a job well done when they do win.


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    • Papa Sez profile image

      Papa Sez 8 years ago from The Philippines to Canada

      Hi sunstreeks,

      Our school-age daughter is very competitive and doesn't want to lose. But when she does, we emphasize her effort (or how tight the competition was, only if it really was) and tell her she'll do better next time. That seems to be working or getting into her system.

      I'll try your suggestion about congratulating the winner. Thanks.

    • profile image

      Royal Diadem 8 years ago

      I have three grandchildren, thank you for this article, I have learned some helpful tips.

    • teeray profile image

      teeray 9 years ago from Canada

      I like the idea that you make a big deal when your daughter doesn't win at something - and that you make a big deal about second place, too! That makes a lot of sense. Very positive. Thank you for this great hub!

    • sunstreeks profile image

      sunstreeks 9 years ago from Western Washington

      thanks! I'll see if I can work them a little later on. I appreiciate your suggestion.

    • rajasekharan profile image

      rajasekharan 9 years ago

      Wow! great guide.

      Could use better ad placements though ;)