Your six-year-old has just finished a match. And they lost. Your first instinct is probably to give them a hug and soothe their hurt. However, maybe this is also the time you ponder over how to deal with this pain such that it gives your child some perspective about competition.
Six-year-olds can be very competitive. That is not necessarily a bad thing considering the competitive world we live in. However what is important is that your child learns to look at winning and losing as a part of the game.
Some help from part will make them resilient to a loss.
- Bettering me: Six-year-olds have just learnt the concept of time. Take a stop watch and ask them to run to a tree and back. Show them the time they take and ask them to better it next time. This becomes a fun activity and it teaches them that they can work towards improving themselves even without competition.
- Practicing sportsmanship: Start with a simple game that does not require using many strategies. This way you can focus on teaching your child sportsmanship. Use phrases like”good job”, “great try” so that your child picks on them.
- Modeling sportsmanship: Make sure you demonstrate sportsmanship in your behaviour- while watching a game, when you are in traffic, when you play games with them. Children learn most by watching and imitating.
- Preparing them: Physical training apart, you want the child to be mentally prepared to play their best before a game. However do remind them that the idea is to have fun and sometimes their friends can win instead of them.
- Redefining win: Teach them that sportsmanship, playing by the rules and giving your best is what a good game is all about. Prioritize sportsmanship over winning.
- Praising them: Do remember to notice, point out and appreciate what went well for them in the game. Also, applaud them for showing sportsmanship like congratulating their friend on winning.
- Losing gracefully: Spell out phrases that they can use- like “good game”, “congratulations” even when they lose. Make them realize how their feedback can make someone else feel.
- Talking to them: Discuss the game they lost. Their loss is not a reason to pretend it did not happen. If you sound normal and calm about it, they will take it as a cue that losing was not a big deal. You could actually come up with constructive ideas to make things turn in their favour the next time.
- Trying again: Tell them there are always good days and bad days. Losing a game is no reason to give up trying altogether. They need to practice and better their game.
As your child grows older winning and losing becomes increasingly important to them. Therefore, it is equally important to teach them to bounce back after a loss. They need to learn that failure is not an end – it is just a chance to try again.