Start with these five questions.

Why. Is he a poor loser because he hasn't learned good sportsmanship? Is he trying to prove himself to others? Does he lack friends? Does he have a thin skin when it comes to teasing? Is he devastated if a friend lets him down in any way? Does he have trouble with the stress of competition, poor skills or ability, or low self-esteem? Is he afraid of losing or making a mistake? Is he afraid of lowering himself in your eyes? Doesn't he enjoy the game or classroom competition? Is it something you want him to do, rather than something he wants to do? Is there an overemphasis on winning (from parents, kid, or coach)? Once you determine the contributors, think through what you'll do to remedy the problem.

What. Next, observe your kid in some kind of competition. This could be competing against her previous grade on a term paper, playing checkers with a friend, engaging in a spelling bee, or swimming in an event. Hint: Do so without her knowing you're watching.What does she do that concerns you? Here are a few behaviors of a poor loser. Check ones that apply to your kid, and jot down the behaviors you notice need improving:

□ Makes excuses

□ Blames others for the loss

□ Can't accept criticism

□ Criticizes peers: their errors or abilities

□ Negative: cheers others' mistakes or boos

□ Argues with referee, music director, teacher, other adults or peers

□ Fails to congratulate opponents

□ Changes rules midstream for his advantage

□ Quits midstream or leaves when bored or tired

□ Can't accept defeat gracefully; cries or complains

□ Wants to quit or give up instead of work to improve performance

Who. Does he display the same attitude toward everyone? Are there some individuals he does not use his poor loser attitude on? If so, who? Why are they spared? Does he display the attitude when he is competing against others, against siblings, or only when he competes against himself?

When. Is there a particular time of day, week, or month he displays the attitude? Is there a reason? For instance, might he be tired, more anxious, frustrated, concerned about final grades, insecure, needing attention, or concerned about who might be watching or who he is with?

Where. Are there certain places he is more likely to use the attitude (at school, home, band practice, in math class, on the baseball field, during choir practice, at a particular kid's house)? Why?

Now take a look at your answers. Are you seeing any predictable patterns? Do you have any better understanding of this attitude and why he's using it?

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