Competition and Being First

Do your children struggle with winning and losing in play?

Are they crushed when they can’t be the first or the best at something?

Here are some tips to help you calm the competition:

  • Coach your child on how to be a good winner and a good loser – Being a good winner includes congratulating the other players, celebrating in ways that consider others and encouraging more play. Being a good loser includes congratulating the winner, expressing disappointment in comfortable ways and continuing to participate as appropriate. Teaching this can take a great deal of time and effort.
  • Even if it is really difficult, don’t avoid playing – Children who struggle with competition need more practice, not less.
  • Start small with competition – If your child has difficulty with winning and losing, it may be best to start small. It may be easier to manage emotions with a game like tic-tac-toe or Hullabaloo that takes a minute to play rather than a game like Candyland that requires a 20 minute investment.
  • Focus on cooperative efforts – For children who need to be the first or the best, offer cooperative activities more often. Think a movie rather than a board game or a relay to beat the clock rather than a race against each other.
  • Play cooperative games – Snail’s Pace Race, Colorama and Caterpillar Crawl all by Ravensburger are fun cooperative board games. You can make Candyland a cooperative effort by all being the blue guy and seeing how fast everyone working together can get him to the castle. Everybody Wins! by Sobel offers hundreds of non-competitive play ideas.
  • Read about it – Good books include The Mightiest by Kasza, Winners Never Quit and Go for the Goal: A Champions Guide to Winning in Soccer and in Life both by Mia Hamm, Timothy Goes to School by Wells and Competition: Deal with It by Messier.

Children can join my Competition Boot Camp – Sat. Oct. 9th:

Author: Dr. Rene Hackney

With a MA in school psychology and a PhD in developmental psychology, I founded and work as a parent educator at Parenting Playgroups. Somewhere in there I trained in the Developmental Clinic at Children's NMC and in the public schools. I have two beautiful, funny children who make me practice what I preach most everyday.

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