How to Help Your Child Cope With Loss

By enrolling your child in sports, you will help him stay active, teach him how to work in a team and build his self-confidence. But sports also have the effect of separating participants into winners and losers, which can cause some pretty crushing emotions in a child. To help your child deal with the intense emotions that come with losing a hard game, “you need to prepare kids for failure by giving them a healthy philosophy of winning that doesn’t depend on the score at the end of the game. said Frank Small , a sports psychologist and co-author of the Educate Youth in Sports project, which offers evidence-based strategies for effective coaching.

To help your child cope with losing, you need to teach him that “you can succeed regardless of the score at the end of the game if you put in your best effort and do your best,” Small said. “What more can you ask of athletes of any level?”

Don’t sugarcoat the loss

When your child has just lost a game, you can immediately try to help him feel better about what happened. While comfort can be helpful in the long run, when the pain of loss is still fresh, it’s important to respect their feelings. “It hurts a lot to lose,” Small said. “You don’t want to sugarcoat it.”

Depending on your child’s personality, they may have different ways of coping with the immediate effects of loss. Some children may want to be comforted while others want to be left alone. Some may want to jump straight into post-game analysis, while others may refrain from talking about the game.

Stop, look and listen

When your child has just lost a game and you want to help them cope with the loss, Small recommends the “stop, look and listen” strategy. “You want to stop focusing on whether the team won or lost. Game over, Small said. “Look for signs that indicate how children are feeling.” This includes studying their facial expressions and body language to understand how they deal with it. And then: “Listen to what they have to say before dominating. Let them speak,” Small said. “Let them have their say and then ask some clarifying questions.”

Focus on achievements and lessons

Once you’ve had a chance to evaluate how your child is coping with a loss, it’s time to focus on aspects of the game that didn’t depend on winning or losing the game, such as what they did well by demonstrating good sportsmanship, demonstrating perseverance, or trying hard. a new skill they were working on in practice.

“It’s about learning and growing,” said Patrick Cohn, mentality coach at Peak Performance Sports . “It’s also about teamwork, collaboration, confidence and the ability to work under pressure.”

This may also be the time to talk about what they learned from the loss and what they plan to work on in the next game. “Losing gives you a good idea of ​​where you are compared to skill,” Small said. “There’s something to be gained from winning, and there’s a lot to be learned from losing, if you’re up for it.”

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