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3 Ways to Teach our Children to be Good Sports

by Joe Lawrence | April 3rd, 2023 | Preschool, Social

board gameThere are many challenges to raising preschoolers. It seems as if every new thing is a challenge. Some are easy wins, but most are very tedious. However, almost all of them are not things we can simply ignore, especially when we know the long term importance.

One such struggle I have had with both of my children is how to lose at a game. They both would throw mini-tantrums and cry. What is even worse is that sometimes they would try to cheat so they could win. Being a sports lover and game lover, it is important for me to ensure my children are good sports and learn that it is about the game, not always the outcome.

Competition is great. Without it, our world would remain stagnant. However, very rarely does it matter who wins or loses when it comes to a game. When playing a board game with my friends or children, it is about the experience. That is the attitude we need to get our children to understand.

To do this, I do three things. First, I make the game experience exciting. As we are going around the board or flipping over the cards, we make jokes and really work at making it fun. As the piece moves through Candy Land, we are pretending to eat all the candy and making silly voices. The experience of the game is where I place the focus.

Next, I model how to lose. When they win, I give them a high-five and let them know how much fun I had. Then we reflect on some of the things that happened during the game. “Wow, you really filled my hands with cards during UNO!” I pay very little attention to the outcome but again try to turn the attention to the experience of the game.

Lastly, I do not always let them win. In fact, I rarely “let” them win. My goal is to teach them strategy and to think things through. If I let them win constantly, they will never improve their own skills. Not to mention, they will never learn to handle loss. Instead, I give them a chance to make the right move in tic-tac-toe or whatever and if they miss it, I capitalize on it. Then we talk about how they could have done things differently.

None of this is as easy as I am making it sound. It takes time. Especially, when grandma always lets them win or the fun experience is ruined by a poor sport at school. However, it is very important we teach our children to be good sports and learn how to experience life.

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