Learning to lose and deal with disappointment is part of children’s growth. Help your child deal with defeat.
It is true that nobody likes to lose. But it is also true that defeat is an indisputable fact: in sport, in board games, in elections or debates, sometimes we will lose.
This feeling can affect us negatively and can leave us with the feeling that we are not good enough. Especially in children, who are still in the development phase, it is essential that they learn to deal with defeat and disappointment, in order to be able to properly manage difficulties and frustrations when they become adults.
Signs of Difficulty Accepting Defeat
If your child has a hard time accepting defeat, chances are he’s already noticed one of these signs:
- blaming others
- Suspect that others are cheating
- Making excuses and looking for flaws in others’ arguments
- attack others
These strategies are intended to help “neutralize” defeat. However, the restoration of self-esteem that children receive when using these techniques is fragile and limited, contributing, on the other hand, to harm and erode their sense of self-worth.
Using these defense measures leads children to feel that they are not strong enough to tolerate and overcome the momentary feeling of vulnerability (defeat). Knowing how to recognize this vulnerability is essential, it’s the way you learn. Realizing that you are lost is, above all, an opportunity to grow and improve.
Techniques to help your child learn to lose
Although it is not always an easy task, parents must help their children deal with the disappointment of defeat. Learning, even as children, to manage feelings when the result is not what was expected is crucial for preparing for adult life.
However, knowing how to properly manage these feelings that accompany defeat is not easy for the little ones. As a rule, it is only during the first years of primary school that children develop a more realistic view of themselves and their abilities and skills. Thus, it is up to adults to show them, with the appropriate strategies, that it is okay to lose:
Play “low value” games
It can be board games or small games during car trips. Competitions in which everyone wins and loses, in turn, should be part of the family routine in a way that neither victory nor defeat is given too much importance. Thus, children realize that both are part of the game and fun.
Recognize the disappointment inherent in defeat
Feeling disappointed after getting lost is normal, so it’s important that you teach your child that what he feels is valid. Each child will react differently to defeat and should show your child that there are many ways to deal with disappointment, but that it is never okay to say mean or derogatory things about others (for example, “he only won because he cheated”. ”).
Tell your youngster that, despite your disappointment at losing, you should still show good sportsmanship by wishing the winners well.
Be an example for your child
When playing with him, take the opportunity to be a positive role model, whether you win or lose. Show him when he feels frustrated or disappointed and teach him how to deal with these feelings.
Talk about luck and bad luck
There are games, such as throwing dice or randomly choosing cards, in which winning depends mainly on chance. It is important that you explain this to your child and that you show him that there are situations in which victory does not depend on us and is not related to our abilities or effort.
Focus on effort
Losing a game that is based on individual or collective effort may not be easy. Thus, it is important to focus on the child’s effort and encourage him, even if he loses, as this encourages him to recognize that he can practice, improve, learn and grow and makes it more likely that he will try again.
Showing that winning is the only outcome that matters can negatively affect a child’s self-esteem. Instead of believing that you have the potential to grow, you may feel like failure or not good enough.
Turn defeat into an opportunity to reflect and learn
After the child gets over the disappointment phase, reflect with him on the game. Reflect with her on what went wrong and what could have been done differently so that the next time the result is different.
Be patient with your child
Learning to lose is a slow process that develops as children grow. Continue to praise your child for her effort and good behavior and, above all, continue to spend time with her.