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Winning and Losing

Most parents have witnessed their child lose a game or activity and then braced themselves for the fallout. While your teen or teens may not exhibit the signs of a "sore loser" like a younger child, it's still important to talk with him after a game. Many times, teens and teens link their self-worth to the loss or the win of a game, so be sure to provide encouragement and support.

Winning and Losing

The increased competiveness of school sports makes it easy to see why kids tie losing to being a "loser." Help your child see the whole picture; rather than merely looking at the game he lost, encourage him to look at that one game as just one tree in the forest. To ensure your child's self-esteem isn't completely knocked down after a loss, be prepared to help him see the bigger picture, not just a basketball game or cheerleading competition.

Follow these steps to help your child understand that life is more than just one game:

  • Stress good sportsmanship. Encourage your child to get to know every teammate and cheer on the entire team, not just the "star" player. Stress how important it is to congratulate opponents, win or lose.
  • Focus on other things. Help your child see himself outside of the athletic realm; after all, he is more than just an athlete. Avoid introducing your child as the "baseball player", "star player", etc.
  • Use encouraging words. Say the same things you said to your son or daughter when he was a young child, "That pass was really great", "As long as you tried your best", "That was close, maybe next time." Encouraging words that come from parents can almost always make a child feel a little bit better, no matter his age.
  • Work on his weak spots, together. If you notice your child has trouble making foul shots during the basketball game, or is struggling to remember the steps in a cheer, practice with him. Set aside time to work on things your child may be self-conscious about.
  • Pay attention to pressure. Keep an eye on the level of competition that is taking place; you should be able to spot if too much pressure is coming from your child's coach, peers, etc. If you notice the pressure is continuous and unwavering, you may need to have a talk with the coach or a school administrator.

Just because your child has grown older doesn't mean you can't use the same resources you used in previous years to make him feel better. No child is ever too old for honest conversations and encouraging words. Remember, help your child associate his identity with other things besides athletics.