If your child plays sports then hopefully they are familiar with winning, but they also need to understand losing. Just ask the Cleveland Indians.We all want to be the Cubs right now, (truth be told, we are all pretending like we actually are), but for 100 years being a Cub wasn’t so much fun. There was a lot of loss before they won the 2016 World Series. No one likes to lose, but adults are presumably better prepared to deal with it. However, for kids just starting out, losing can be absolutely devastating. Devastating? Yes. Insurmountable? No. This is where sports parents get to earn their stripes.
If your young athlete loses a game they need to know how to cope and you, my fellow sportsparentz, need to help them. First and foremost our kids need to be a good sport and interact with the winning team after the game with humility and dignity. They need to shake hands, hold their heads up and exit with grace. After that, however, all athletes big and small need some time to process their emotions, of which there can be many. They may feel frustration, disappointment, sadness and even anger. It is to be expected, but it shouldn’t be prolonged. Even if your kid loses a game on the field they can still win in the game of life, they just need a game plan. As a seasoned sports parent I offer you some tips I have learned through experience that help my kids cope when they lose a game. Add them to your arsenal.
8 Things Sports Parents Can Do To Help If Their Kid Loses a Game
1. Give Them Space
Your instinct may be to wrap your child up into a bear hug and soothe them form hurt. That’s fine if that is what your child truly wants. But especially as they get older what they may really want is some space to brood, process their experience and catalog it internally. Don’t take it personally. Let your child know you are there for them, but then back off and give them some space.
2. Roll The Replay
One of the things my son likes most about my attendance at his games is that I always take pictures and videos. Win or lose he loves to look at the footage. After the game I hand him my phone and camera and let him review his own performance. It’s very empowering and also clarifying. Our minds can play tricks on us. It can help to see our actions in black and white…or HD color, whatever the case may be.
3. Let The Music Play
Silence can be deafening, especially after a defeat so instead of trying to fill the void with chatter turn on the tunes. Their tunes, not yours. This is not the time to assert your parental radio authority.
4. Feed Them
Take your athlete to a beloved eatery for some sustenance post game. Win or lose your child burned up a lot of energy playing their game. Emotions can be hard to control on an empty stomach. Refuel them so that they can see the world more realistically, as well as their loss.
Invite teammates out to join your child. Gather them together to eat, go to a movie, or even play video games. Let them blow off some steam and finish the day on a good note.
6. Let Them Practice
There are some kids who after a loss need to take to the field or court on their own and practice. The act of doing drills, working to improve the skills they feel they faltered at during the game, is empowering. Plus the additional exercise may help them excise some game loss demons.
7. Bathe Them
Encourage your child to take a steam shower or a soaking bath. For one thing if they are anything like my athletes they probably smell like hard work after a game. They need to wash away the grit of the game, plus the hot water will help their muscles, and their emotions, recover.
8. Put Them To Bed
It takes a lot of energy to get your game on, and the emotions that accompany a loss in particular can burn kids out even further. Sometimes what your child needs most of all is to get lost in slumber. You know the signs. Don’t ignore them. If your child falls asleep in the car, drive around for a little while. If they are nodding off at the restaurant, get the food to go. Put some fresh bedding on their bed, fluff up the pillows on the couch, clear some space on the floor, whatever! Just do what you have to do to pave their way to dreamland and help them get their rest.
Sure winning is great, AWESOME even, but losing is a part of any childs’ growth process, and who better to lead them on this path than you, their parent? They don’t call you a “sports parent” for nothing.