Written by Tracey Blake
Raising your child to be a ‘good sport’ – enjoying playing the game and wanting to win but being gracious in defeat – is surely one of parenting’s biggest challenges. So we threw this conundrum to our parent community and they came up with this brilliant advice….
Alison: The best way to create good sportsmen is to not rig the games so they win every time. Do not LET your child win when they play games with you just because they are a child. They need to learn to follow the rules and LOSE in order to be a good and gracious winner. A lot of it is developmental and the bowling incident was a good experience for Minnie. Talking with her about it when she is not upset will help. My grandmother was wonderful because she never let us win.She was super competitive even against a child, so when we won fair and square it was a hard win victory.
Natalie: Haha. Tough love. And the right words. Winning is a great feeling but losing makes you a better team player… you can’t win all the time but you got out there, took part and did well. I loved watching you play / perform / compete today (nothing about winning or losing)…. Being a team player – win or lose – is brilliant, they are your friends and you’re all in it together .Being competitive is fantastic but being a gracious loser is a real skill Other than that they just have to deal with it and suck it up. Flynn’s rugby teams ethos is ‘play fair, have fun & look after your mates’. The winning is a bonus. You can see I’ve evolved over the years into a bona fide sports Mum
Jasmine: Maybe let them grumble, don’t pay it too much attention and encourage them to carry on having fun. They will see that actually they miss out on much more sulking. But whatever you do don’t play monopoly with them!! 😂😂
Amanda: Learning that you don’t always win and you don’t always get what you want is a great lesson in life. We were always very curt and short ‘you lost, get over it mate’ and ‘if you whinge, we won’t come back’ – and it worked. They learned it was life. But the parents from Ruby’s school who gave their kids everything, let them win, shielded them from any disappointments, were left with real snowflakes who at 19 can’t handle anything that doesn’t go their way (uni places, etc). Our kids are very robust and cheerful – but v v far from perfect and there’s many parenting mistakes I HAVE made hahahaha! Xx
Niki: We started with board games. Took a couple of ‘sessions’ of getting upset about not winning, but the every time he wanted to play, we would always remind him that he may not win, and we would only play if he showed good sportsmanship and didn’t get upset/annoyed if he didn’t win. A bit like Amanda above, we would just tell him that’s life and that he couldn’t play anymore if he was going to spoil it for others. That’s now transferable to whatever game/sport we play, and his younger brother seems to have picked up on it without us going through the same thing
Bryony: Really good advice here! We made Lucy say, “it’s been fun playing with you” at the end of a game no matter what. We said it too, and initially all sounded completely false, but now occasionally she says it spontaneously and sounds as if she means it (or is a good actress)!
Suzanne: Definitely Amanda’s advice!! Xx
Maurice: Show them China getting Silver and GB getting Bronze in the same Olympic diving event at London – and see which they’d prefer to be … grateful to be there, or so consumed by winning that it sucks the fun out of even a silver! (This is where Daley et al were so overjoyed they all jumped in pool – as a loving team – while the guy who still beat them looked mortified at only getting silver. Was ugly to see!)
Flic: Oh I just think ignore it and let them get bored of sulking. Then don’t mention it. Part of stropping off is attention seeking so be as uninterested as possible in the strop and they’ll get bored.
James B: We have a board of mediocrity which is full of ‘achievements’ ; I enjoy pointing out their 7th place certificate to bemused visitors and I always make sure the kids can hear me so they know I am proud of them for taking part where ever they came!
NOTE FROM ED: Getting a sporty Student Nanny to spend time with your children and mentor them can also help them learn about being competitive in a positive way, of course!!!