Advice Needed


My daughter is a fierce competitor.  Everything, and I mean everything can be turned to a competition with her.  Last weekend when we were driving back to the camp site from training camp, Scott and I drove my parents van and let my parents follow us with the kids in our van. We pulled in to Dairy Queen as a fun surprise and she says to my dad, “Now’s your chance to beat them… keep driving Papa!”

Not only does she thrive on competition, but the girl cares a lot and I mean A LOT about winning.  This of course means that she also hates to lose.  At anything… getting to the van, tic tac toe, Uno….  We’ve worked a lot this past year on her temper and I have seen her  mature and grow a lot. 

Lately, her way to ensure that she always wins, is by refusing to play any game that is as she calls it “a winner/loser game.”  If there is a chance she can lose, she doesn’t want to play… Tic-tac-toe, Wii, Uno, Hi Ho Cherrio, you name it… her response is always, “I’ll just watch I don’t like winning/losing games.” 

I applaud the fact that she recognizes the fact that she doesn’t like losing and thus since she can’t guarantee a win, she’s removing the obstacle at hand.   In a way, it shows a self awareness and even an element of self control. 

But, she has to learn to lose graciously.  She can’t always win.  In fact it’s one reason why I love my kids playing sports.  I love that they learn to work on a team and they learn to win and lose.    But, at her age, they don’t keep score in soccer, so she hasn’t really had to learn to lose. 

I don’t know how to teach her.  I don’t want her to just not play.   Her older brother has graciously offered to promise to lose when they play games just because he’s desperate for a playmate and it’s the only way she’ll agree.    But not only is that not fair to her, it isn’t teaching her anything either.  She can’t go out in the world and expect other kids to agree to lose for her.   So, do I force her to play these “winner/loser games” that she doesn’t want to play so that she’ll get experience losing?  (hmmm sounds like 2 battles waiting for me) 

Any of you out there have experience with this that you can pass along?  The easy thing to do would be just let her not play, but I don’t think that is what she needs.


  1. I can't say I'm very good for giving advice....but is there a way to incorporate the "everyone loses" sometimes by using examples of great peeople/teams that have lost along the way but also came out winners too? Like the Steelers have won the Superbowl, but they've lost too and even though it stinks when they lose it helps the players work harder to win next time. How you can't fully know the joy of winning without losing sometimes? How trying her best always makes her a "winner?" It all sounds cliche and you've likely already gone down that path. Hhhhmmmnnn...what about how even when the Steelers lose they still keep playing...the game doesn't end and they don't stop playing the season...? Show her clips of post game coverage when the teams shake hands and pat eachother on the back? Keep us posted on how you turn winning/losing into a teachable lesson!

  2. My G & E were not very graceful losers, but they seemed to outgrow it with age and experience. We try to compliment the kids for effort rather than outcome.... "I like the way you ran after the ball and didn't back down to the opponent", not "yeah you scored a goal, and your team won."

  3. One ofmychildren was a perfectionist and very stubborn. This child would purposefully draw a pictures scribble-scrabble because of fear of not being perfect. He missed out on the opportunity to learn new skills and limited his future opportunities because of it. If the family is playing make her play but let her be on a team with Mom or Dad. Congratulate the winner, but don't overdo the attention given to the winner. You canals say, we didn't win this time, but maybe next time. Some games require skill to win or lose others are the draw of the cards. On those games requiring skill, she cannot compete with someone older as she doesnt have the same thinking skills, brain development or coordination. Maybe for wii the competition can be against oneself and try to improve past scores. There may be times to let her sit out, particularly if she's tired, but don't let that be a habit. She may one day recognize that she's often left out of family games but may not make the connection that she has chosen that herself. She may see it as rejection. Be sure the family also does activities that she enjoys and is good at doing. Didn't mean to get all psychological on you and I'm no psychologist but I am speaking from experience from my own family.
    Perhaps the kids can take turns choosing games with the understanding that everybody participates in each other's activity. Well that's my two cents worth. Lucy charges five cents!

  4. Great advice from your readers. I think our "couples" games worked very well for her with one adult and one child playing as a team. Does take the pressure off of her losing by herself. Team games seem to hurt less?!?!


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