How to Teach a Child to Be Gracious when They Lose: 7 Steps
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Game-playing can teach important life skills.

If winning rocks and losing stinks, kids are going to need some help coping when they lose. Everybody wants to win, but it doesn't always work out that way. Somebody's got to come up short, and if it's your kid, make sure he's ready to handle it. The skill of losing graciously will serve your child throughout life to help him handle competition properly.


  1. 1
    Play games often with your kids to give them plenty of practice both winning and losing. Include board games, card games, video games and sports appropriate to different ages and abilities. Try to mix it up enough that even toddlers and preschoolers get to have the experience of winning and losing.
  2. 2
    Demonstrate the art of losing graciously whenever you lose. Put a genuine smile on your face, stick out your hand and congratulate the winner with a hearty handshake. Tell the winner, "Good game." Give thumbs up to the winner, too.
  3. 3
    Make it a family policy to congratulate the winner. Everybody feels some degree of triumph and satisfaction when they win – make sure your family helps the winner feel recognized.
  4. 4
    Avoid protecting your kid from losing. Kids need practice in losing graciously – it doesn't just happen. When you play games, give kids opportunities to practice being gracious losers.
  5. 5
    Insist that winners win good-naturedly, too. Bragging or crowing over a win can make it hard for losers to feel gracious. Smiling and pumping an arm in victory is fine. Hooting, yelling and doing cartwheels – not so fine.
  6. 6
    Play down the winning and losing aspect of game-playing and concentrate on learning and having fun. Instead of focusing on who wins or loses, talk about good things that happened during a game. Talk about exciting plays and cool maneuvers.
  7. 7
    Give a sore loser a time-out from games if you notice a pattern of negative behavior. Spend time doing other activities that will help your kid feel strong and secure.


  • Wake up the empathetic nature in your kid. Have her think for a minute how the other people playing the game feel and place herself in their position. Winners like to be happy and excited when they win, and they also like it when other people are happy for them. Ask her to think about how she might feel if she won and someone said something mean to her.Keep in mind that modeling a gracious attitude toward losing extends to your time watching sports in front of the TV or in the stands at your kids' games. Little eyes are always watching.

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Categories: Education and Communications

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