For some kids, winning is everything

Filed under: Big Kids, Tweens, Teens, Activities: Babies

Around here, nothing ruins Friday game night quicker than a bad deal on Uno. As my seven-year-old draws card after card, not getting what she needs to play, her chin starts to quiver and her eyes fill with tears. "It's not fair!" she howls as she finally gives in to the frustration and tosses her cards on the table in disgust. Yes, she's a sore loser.

I've witnessed this scene many times and it never fails to bring back memories of my own childhood. You see, I was a sore loser, too. My family played cards a lot and if I wasn't winning, I was pouting. If the pouting didn't work, I would begin complaining loudly. If things still didn't turn around, I would inevitably quit the game and stomp off in anger. Eventually, they stopped letting me play.

I don't understand why it was so important for me to win, but it was. And those feelings of frustration, anger and the unfairness of it all were very real to me, as I know they must be for Ellie. By this age, she knows that her sore loser behavior is unacceptable and she tries, she really tries, but she just can't help herself.

I never grew out of my competitiveness, but I did learn to handle the disappointment of losing. Unfortunately, what it took for me was being excluded from games not only by my family, but by my friends, too. Being known as the cry-baby loser among my peers was a painful experience and I am trying to help Ellie avoid that. We've had the "it's just a game" talk and we've discussed ways she can try to calm herself when she gets upset.

I've read that sore losers like Ellie (and myself) generally fall into two categories: those who are by nature easily frustrated and angered and those whose self-esteem is tied to winning and who worry about what others think of them. I think there is a little of both at play here. Do you have a sore loser in your house? How have you helped them deal?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.