Perhaps the best way for you as a sports parent to help your child cope with losing is to put yourself in his shoes for a few minutes.
Remember when you lost that job you wanted? That promotion you put in for? That house that you bid on? That student government election?
Even if you never played sports, you’ve lost at something.
And what did you want to hear when that loss happened? Did any of these statements help?
Nice try, better luck next time.
Good effort. You were awesome!
You could have done it, if only…..
Oh well, it’s only a game.
The verbal bandaids we try to put on our kids’ defeats rarely heal the wound of a loss.
So, what do I suggest?
Let your kids lose in peace.
This doesn’t necessarily mean total silence. The word peace means freedom from any strife or dissension.
So choose words that won’t stir up frustration or self-recriminations. Choose words that soothe.
Sorry, son. I know you played your heart out.
That was a tough one. Sorry.
Letting our kids lose in peace means that we don’t feel compelled to make them feel better immediately–often they need time to recover. Of course, they will remember it, but they will get over it.
Letting our kids lose in peace means that we don’t immediately start a discussion on how they can improve, why they shouldn’t be on the bench, or how to keep from making mistakes next time.
Letting our kids lose in peace means that sometimes we just pat them on the back, shut up and walk with them to the car. We let our eyes and our touch do more talking than our mouth.
There will always be time later for game discussion and evaluation.
The Manning Way
I watched a game once where Eli and Payton Manning played against each other; one beat the other one 38-14.
The game announcers mentioned that the Manning parents had a rule. Each week, if one of their sons lost a game, it was up to HIM to make the phone call home; if they won, however, they would get a call. In other words, the Manning parents knew when to leave their kids alone, the losing son would call home when he was ready to talk.
Smart parents. Just goes to show, whether your kids are 15 or 30, they still need their space. Let them lose in peace.