What to do if your kid is a sore loser

July 21, 2022

Do you have a sore loser on your hands? Let’s dig into how to shift that behavior for them. 

Build a growth mindset

You will start by building a growth mindset (we have an article on this if you want to learn more). We want our kids to realize every game or activity isn’t actually high stakes by cultivating a sense in our child that winning isn’t everything. We want them to learn that the process is as good as the final product and that every time they play they are building their skills and getting better and better.

Building a growth mindset in our kids also helps them view challenges, setbacks, and losses as a learning opportunity. It helps them meet a hard moment with curiosity and self-reflection rather than tears and tantrums.

Give me an example

So when your kid melts down over losing don’t say:

  • “Don’t be a sore loser” 
  • “If you’re going to act like this we can’t ever play soccer again.”
  • “It's okay. Winning doesn’t matter.”
  • “It’s not a big deal” 

(because spoiler: it IS a big deal to them and it DOES matter to them at that moment). 


Validate their feelings:

“I can see you’re upset you lost. It’s okay to feel bummed.”

Remind them that winning isn’t everything: 

“Winning isn’t the only thing that matters. Playing together was SUPER fun. We learned a lot by playing together and got to practice a bunch of new things.”

Focus on the learning opportunity:  

“What could you do differently next time?”
“Is there a skill you could practice to help us get better at this?”
“Who could you ask for help to teach you the skills you need?”

But remember that in the moment of big feelings it can be REALLY hard to shift these big feelings, and get kids focusing on the learning opportunity. So cultivating a growth mindset in calm, everyday moments will be really important for setting the tone. A growth mindset is a skill that is built over time, and it means that every time your child comes to ANY setback or loss, they have the skills they need to weather it. So head over to our growth mindset article to learn more about how to build a growth mindset in your kids (and you!).

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