Win and Lose Gracefully: How to Encourage Your Child to Handle the Results of Competition
Win with humility, lose with grace and do both with dignity” – author unknown.
From backyard flag football games to the action-packed games at the Shoe, competition is a huge part of our culture. At Play Fanatics, we encourage our athletes to rally together to secure victory on the field. In addition to this competitive conditioning, however, it is important to teach children to gracefully win and lose. Sportsmanship is an essential trait of a strong athlete. Use every opportunity to instill greatness in your child. Here are a few tips on how you can help your little athlete experience a loss just as gracefully as he/she can experience a victorious win!
FOCUS ON IMPROVEMENT, RATHER THAN ON THE WIN: The competitiveness of flag football is exciting and even healthy, but with every win, someone experiences a loss. Instead of focusing solely on the win of the game, motivate your child to focus on individual or collective improvement. Inspire your child to reflect on what skills he/she has enhanced or how the team as a whole has become better. Regardless of the outcome of the game, perhaps make mention of how much faster your child is running compared to the previous week or how well the team executed a play on the field. In doing this, your child will learn to see the value in the entire experience, regardless of the results of the game.
PROMOTE ROLE MODELS: One way to cushion the fall associated with a loss is to introduce your child to some of the world’s most successful athletes and how they have handled losing a big game throughout their journey. It may come as a surprise to your child to know that Michael Jordan, known to be the greatest basketball player of all time, was at one point turned away from making a basketball team. Michael Jordan experienced great disappointment throughout his basketball career. His disappointments didn’t identify him, but his persistence, however, lead him to the top of his game. Introducing your child to the right role models can make a true impression on the type of athlete he/she will aspire to be.
BE A ROLE MODEL: As parents, it can be difficult to keep quiet in the midst of constant toughs call made by a referee or after the loss of a game, but when the game is over, the field lights are spotted on you. Your child is observing how you respond to every win and every loss, and therefore, it is essential to demonstrate a positive attitude after each game. Be the role model that your child needs in order to achieve greatness on and off of the field. Even beyond the football field, your child is learning by observing how you respond to success and disappointment in everyday life. Each of your demonstrations in life is a teachable moment for your child! Teach them to rise and fall gracefully.
ENCOURAGE SPORTSMANSHIP: Victory instills excitement and pride. Even after a win, however, sportsmanship is a vital part of a young athlete’s journey. Enthusiastically encourage your child to shake hands with his/her opponent. Teach them that once that final play of the game is made, the opposing team is no longer a rival, but rather their peers. Additionally, on the car ride home, encourage your child to share some of the strengths of the other team that they happened to notice. The practice of shifting focus from winning enables your child to appreciate other valuable elements of the game. It allows them to see the entire game from a different vantage point. .
“If you can’t accept losing, you can’t win” -Vince Lombardi