Teach them to win and lose gracefully
Whether it’s a game of Candyland, soccer or an Academic Quiz Bowl, our children need to know how to win and lose gracefully. We want our children to succeed, but sometimes we get tangled up in the competition and we forget that winning doesn’t make you a champion and losing doesn’t make you a failure. Here are some focus points for helping kids win and lose with balance and character.
Focus on humility. Every skill, gift and talent is a gift from God designed to help us grow in holiness. Each time we use these gifts and talents, we should do it to bring glory to the giver of the gift. It’s not about being the best, it’s about doing your best in the eyes of the Father.
Focus on the gift, not just the outcome. After a competition, talk about things you noticed such as determination, improvement, sportsmanship and character.
Focus on empathy. Talk about what happens at the exact moment of the win or the loss. Talk about what that reaction shows others about the kind of competitor you are. Graceful winners say things like “good game” or “thanks for playing,” and they humbly acknowledge their opponents’ efforts. Graceful losers think about what they might do to improve next time instead of blaming, making excuses or being angry.
Focus on the feelings. To help your child react differently, it’s important to identify the root of the negative reaction. It might be disappointment, embarrassment or frustration, rather than the actual score or finish.
Focus on what you model. If we want our children to win and lose with grace, we need to show them what that looks like. If we are criticizing other players, coaches, judges or officials, our children will certainly imitate our behavior.
Our main goal as parents is to help our children get to heaven – not to raise prize-winning competitors. So don’t forget to encourage your children to pray before competing and to ask for the grace to compete well.
Sheri Wohlfert is a Catholic school teacher, speaker, writer and founder of Joyful Words Ministries. Sheri blogs at www.joyfulwords.org