Emergency Attitude

Identify the most typical way your kid shows his poor response to losing. Does he blame other people? Make excuses? Cry or lose his temper? Does he cheat or lie? Does he quit in the middle or seek revenge? Then focus intentionally on replacing this bad attitude with a more appropriate and constructive response to losing. For example, if he blames his teacher or coach, tell him that response is no longer acceptable. Instead, help him to take responsibility for what happened. Challenge his view of the facts, and help him understand why it was nobody's fault but his own. Then help him do an instant replay with the scenario in a responsible and more mature way.

Watching any kid be a poor loser is embarrassing, but when the kid is yours, it's downright humiliating. Sure, the kid may be the best bassoonist in the orchestra, have the highest grade-point average in the class, be the best cheerleader on the squad, or be the greatest runner in town, but the moment she starts arguing, making excuses, cheating, blaming others, or booing, her skills no longer matter.What everyone sees instead is a poor loser, and that's a tough image to erase.

One big reason we may have such an epidemic of poor losers is that we aren't doing such a great job of modeling how to win or lose ourselves. Besides poor modeling, the parental emphasis too often these days seems bent on raising the "trophy kid"—that is, producing offspring with the most awards, highest test scores, and longest resumes.The payoff can be deadly to our kids' character.

A "win at any cost" mentality often means putting everything aside, including homespun values like consideration, camaraderie, and humility, and letting selfish, egocentric ways take over. It's all the more reason to help your kid learn to win as well as lose gracefully in all areas of life.Tuning up this attitude is about how to help our kids play the game called life—and how to play it well.We must replace a poor losing attitude with the virtues of good sportsmanship, fairness, and forgiveness.

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