10 Ways to Tell Your Child is a Poor Loser

Posted on by admin | in Articles, Nanny Tips

Part of growing up is learning how to deal with adversity. It happens and, like it or not, we can’t always give out trophies to each of life’s participants. How a child handles losing is related to how they view competition, themselves and their peers. When too much emphasis is placed on winning, and self-esteem is too closely linked to whether they win or lose, a child can have difficulty accepting defeat.

The following are ten ways to tell if your child is a poor loser:

  1. Sulking: She will sulk or storm off if things don’t go her way. Losing is not something that she handles in stride. She may stay upset or sulky the rest of the day, or even longer. Giving into this behavior is the first step to a spoiled child.
  2. No winners: As a form of the old taking-my-marbles-and going-home pattern, he will leave when losing, taking the ball (or other key game object) with him. The message here is “If I can’t win, then no one else can either”.
  3. Fits: Your child cries or throws tantrums when faced with losing. Up to a certain age, it’s understandable for a toddler to express disappointment in such ways; but if it goes on too long, Houston, we’ve got a problem.
  4. Avoid: The child has a general tendency to avoid admitting mistakes. It may be that she’s gotten the message that being wrong, or failing, means being a failure. It is important for children to learn how to learn from their mistakes, not deny that they make any.
  5. Cheat: A child for whom losing is not a viable option may be willing to cheat in order to avoid it. Going out of turn, changing the rules mid-game, etc. If the child continues to play unfairly, they will soon be playing alone.
  6. Excuses: Excuse making is another trait common among children who can’t accept failure. Claims of unfairness or favoritism are often part of the mix. Children should be taught not to blame others for failure.
  7. Gloating: Gloating or ridiculing others when she wins is often the flip side of poor losing skills. Winning with aplomb is as important as losing gracefully. Remind the child to treat others as they would want to be treated.
  8. Shame: Another manifestation of poor losing is shame. When a child believes that their worth as a person is determined by whether they win or lose, then losing means having less worth. Assure your children that losing doesn’t change how you, or others, feel about them.
  9. Anger: Aggressive behavior, even outright violence, is exhibited by children who can’t deal with losing. A win-at-all-costs mentality drives the child to extreme behavior. Make sure the child knows that this is unacceptable and teach them more constructive ways of dealing with failure.
  10. Change: A child might repetitively switch activities, ostensibly in search of some recreational pursuit in which they can claim victory every time; or conversely, they may shy from all competitive pursuits, to avoid the trauma of losing altogether.

No matter what tactic the child chooses, they need to be taught how to deal with failure just as much as they are taught how to deal with success. No one is perfect, and we all fail at times. Learning from your mistakes is one of the cornerstones of maturity. Help children realize that failure is just another learning experience.

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