What-not-to-do-after you lose…

February 17, 2016


Photo Credit: © Susan Leggett |

If you live in the US, you have likely heard about the Denver Broncos win over the Carolina Panthers in last week’s Superbowl 50.

And, if you live on this planet, you have likely heard about QB Cam Newton’s pouty, “sore-loser” post-game press conference conducted in his “invisibility hoodie”.

The game MVP later went on to say, “Show me a good loser, and I’m going to show you a loser.”

Everyone wants to win.  There is no denying that!  But…When it comes to teaching our kids about winning AND losing in sports, how you handle the loss is JUST AS IMPORTANT as how you handle the win!

A friend and mentor, Larry Winget, says, “We need to teach our kids to win with humility and lose with dignity.”  The winning with humility part seems a bit easier – shake the hands of the other team, tell them “good game” (and sound like you mean it), don’t brag to everyone that your team is the best…

Winning doesn’t have to mean one team is good and the other one is bad!  And it doesn’t have to mean that everyone gets a trophy!

Losing with dignity is a lot harder.  When you have put your heart and soul into something, it’s tough to not want to throw yourself on the ground and have a big cry – or blame the loss on everything and everyone around you!

No matter what your child’s age or athletic ability, here are 4 tips for helping them be better losers –

  1. Praise your child’s efforts – Focus on the effort and the skills demonstrated during play. “I saw that you were really running your hardest during the game today.”  Kids who recognize their own effort are more successful than those who just focus on the outcomes.
  2. Be a role model – Kids watch us!  If you’re yelling at the referees from the stands or cursing when your sports team loses the big game, your kids will pick up on your habits.  So model good sportsmanship.
  3. Teach anger management skills – Throwing board game pieces or yelling at teammates in a fit of rage are behaviors that aren’t ok.  Teach your kids that angry feelings are ok but dangerous behaviors and/or blaming others isn’t the way to handle a defeat.
  4. Don’t “let” your child win – Many parents think that they should let their child win to avoid meltdowns.  Walking on eggshells around our kids is a horrible way to live!  Using losing a game with you as an opportunity to teach the skills mentioned above in a safe place!


All of this can begin with the idea of not feeling ashamed of the loss but proud of the effort in the first place.  True winners can pick themselves up, dust themselves off and learn from the past to make their futures even greater!

That’s what Cam Newton’s Mom should say to him.






Check out this Wise Family resource on sportsmanship: