7 Ways to Prevent Your Child From Being a Sore Loser

Don't let your child turn into a sore loser.
altrendo images / Altrendo / Getty Images

Quitting because he's behind, yelling because he didn't win or getting angry at you for winning are all signs of a sore sport. And while many kids struggle to maintain a positive attitude while losing at their favorite game, some kids have more problems than others. 

Being a sore loser isn't likely to do your child any favors. After all, no one wants to play with the kid who cheats because he's losing or the one makes excuses about why he didn't win.

If your child tends to be a sore loser, take steps to teach him better sportsmanship. Here are seven ways to help him stop being a sore loser:

1. Praise Your Child’s Efforts

If you praise your child for scoring the most goals in the soccer game or for getting the highest grade on his math test, your words will fuel his competitive nature. Praise him for his hard work and his effort regardless of the final outcome.

Instead of saying, “You’re the fastest runner on the team,” say, “I like the way you cheered for the other kids today.” Point out good sportsmanship and emphasize the importance of treating others respectfully.

2. Role Model Good Sportsmanship

If you’re yelling at the referees from the stands at your child’s soccer game or you engage in a major victory dance every time you beat out your competition, your child is likely to pick up on your habits. It’s important to role model good sportsmanship and show your child how to treat other people kindly, no matter the score.

3. Help Your Child Understand Feelings

When kids can identify their feelings of sadness, anger, disappointment, and frustration, they’re less likely to act them out. Teach your child about feelings and help him develop healthy coping strategies to deal with those feelings.

4. Teach Anger Management Skills

Sore losers often throw board game pieces or say mean things to other people in a fit of rage. Help your child recognize that these types of behaviors aren’t acceptable.

Teach him that feeling angry is okay but hurting people or property isn’t okay. Invest time and energy into teaching your child specific anger management skills that will help him tolerate losing.

5. Don't Let Your Child Win

It can be tempting sometimes to throw the game on purpose so you won't be subjected to a sore loser's negative reaction. Although preventing a meltdown can help you in the short-term, over the long haul you won’t be doing your child any favors. While you don’t need to be brutally competitive, avoid losing on purpose to spare your child’s feelings because you’ll only reinforce his notion that he always needs to win.

6. Ignore Temper Tantrums

If your child begins to cry, stomp his feet, or throw himself to the ground, ignore it. Ignoring temper tantrums will sometimes make them worse at first, but eventually, your child will grow bored when he sees he doesn’t have an audience.

Avoid consoling him or talking to him when he's misbehaving. As soon as he is calm, give him positive attention.

7. Practice Being a Graceful Winner

Sore losers usually aren’t graceful winners. When they beat their opponent, they tend to find great joy in rubbing it in and bragging about their victory.

Teach your child how to show kindness to others by shaking hands and saying, “Good game” to an opponent or by saying, “Thank you for playing with me.” Help your child focus on the fun he had playing the game, not who won or lost.

Was this page helpful?