Parenting Coach

Practical ideas for social, emotional and behavioral challenges

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Be a good sport.

What you can do

Play games with your child and use them to demonstrate how to get along with others. Talk about how to deal with disappointment and losing. Also discuss what it means to be a gracious winner.

Praise your child for cooperative behavior. Be specific when you point out positive and negative aspects. And while you’re showing your child the ropes, be sure to have fun together and to use family game nights to help your child feel loved and supported.

What you can say

“Way to go, Sofia. That was an awesome move. You got me. Jacob, did you know that your sister was going to play that card? She did a great job. Let’s play again and see if I can remember that move and win next time.”

“I’m happy when you win, Sofia. But sometimes you might overdo it a little with the celebrating. Let’s work on toning that down a bit so that the next time you play with your friends you don’t risk making them feel bad, OK?”

“Jacob, I know you don’t like losing. But there can only be one winner for each game, and it won’t always be you. Sofia lost last time and was able to tell you that you did a great job. How did that make you feel? Yes, it does feel good to be recognized for your win.”

“I congratulated her this time. How about you let your sister know she did a great job? She has feelings too. OK, let’s play another round. I just like hanging out with you two!”

Why this will help

Children learn the basics of sportsmanship from the adults in their lives. Kids with learning and attention issues often need to be taught very explicitly how to be gracious winners and losers.

Stopping after each game and specifically praising good behavior will encourage your child to repeat that behavior. Showing a poor loser an alternative way to respond will also help.

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