Easter Egg: Nobody wants to raise a kid who’s a sore loser. But both winning and losing can be tough for kids to handle graciously – especially in today’s competitive, me-me-me environment. Teaching kids how not to be a sore loser is a life skill that will benefit them forever and here are some great ideas about using family board games to teach your little angel one more way to be angelic!
You know the guy. There’s one in every office, neighborhood, team, or club. The sore loser. He clenches his teeth and snarks “congratulations…” after you get the promotion you earned for all your hard work. Or maybe it’s the gal who huffs off the tennis court mumbling “good game…” with her hand “outstretched” but never quite making contact with yours.
Nobody likes working or playing with these guys. And, as parents, we definitely don’t want to raise our kids to be sore losers. There are more important values at stake – camaraderie on a team, having a good time, or making sure other have a good time.
Not that winning isn’t great; it is. But it isn’t everything.
And once your kids start to think that winning is everything, they can easily become sore losers.
But here’s the good news! Family board games are a terrific way to start even the youngest members of your family learning how to lose with grace. And having a regular family game night will provide the necessary repitition for the lesson to stick!
Board Games Help Teach Kids Not To Be Sore Losers
Board games are an excellent way to gain some extra bonding time with family and friends, to create deeper connections, as well as help develop imaginations.
Unfortunately when it comes to playing games, there is typically a winner and a loser. No one wants to lose, but unfortunately someone has to.
And, as you start out, there are even cooperative games that teach kids to work together with other players – and you all win together! This is a great way to start if you worry that your child is really competitive and may have a tough time starting out!
Here are some tips to help your kids be gracious losers. It’s a skill that will benefit them throughout their life!
Set Expectations About Winning And Losing
When you sit down together, to play a board game, set expectations for everyone at the outset. This is especially important for your littlest ones or your super competitive ones. Everyone intuitively understands that you aren’t playing to see who can win. But a little reminder never hurts.
When you child loses, simply remind them that it does not matter that they did not win, this time, but you thoroughly enjoyed spending time together doing something fun! And, after all, this was one of the reasons you were playing in the first place!
You can also start by reviewing the rules of the game, and remind little ones that there will be a winner and a loser at the end of the game. Also explain that it is okay to be the person that loses. Each game you play will have a different outcome, and just because one person loses this time, does not mean they will lose every time they play a game.
Even having set expectations at the beginning, we all know that losing never comes easily, especially when you are young.
Be empathetic toward your child if they end up in tears. A simple hug and reminding them that you, too, know how it feels to lose. Remind them that while they are sad and disappointed now, it will pass. I often offer to sit with them until the big feelings do pass.
Then tell him how you would respond, to help him learn to manage his feelings next time.
Also, remember that board games also do a great job at helping families bond – which will naturally grow your child’s empathy!
Model Good Sportsmanship
When it comes to winning and losing, there’s no better role model than parents. When you yell at referees or teachers or you do the major victory dance when you win – your child will pick up on your reaction to winning and losing.
This modeling goes beyond games. How do you respond when you lose your place in line? How do you respond when something rings up at a higher price than you expected? Our children watch all of these daily responses to “mini loses.”
You are always their first teacher; show your kids how to be kind and empathetic no matter whether they win or lose.
Children can become angry and frustrated when they don’t win. But it’s important to remind them that they may not have the skills to win, “yet.” When they understand that they have control over learning and practicing the skills that will help them improve, it puts them into a growth, instead of a fixed, mindset.
I’m sure you’ve heard about nurturing a growth mindset in your kids. We’ve recently started using the Big Life Journal so that we can continuously nurture this mindset. (It’s great for me too!)
Acknowledge Good Sportsmanship
Each time your kiddo does a great job handling a loss, let them know. Offer praise not just for being a good sport, but for their behavior, and for other things as well. Perhaps your child tried a new strategy, after learning from a previous mistake. Maybe he simply showed good effort, and did his best to carry on, even if the outcome was not looking good. Offering a bit of genuine praise at the end, will make your child feel better, even if he did not win the game.
Teaching your kids not to be sore losers with board games is a process. At the start of it, you may have a crying child, but by the end of implementing these ideas, your kids will be able to lose gracefully.
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