We all want our children to display good sportsmanship behaviors whether they win or lose.
But how do you teach it when they are devastated ofe often that they just lost a game or when they are super excited that they just won?
How do you go from this:
After playing games with many children over the years, I have found there are a few things that work (most of the time!):
First, before the game starts remind them that it's just a game and that you are playing for fun.
Second, review the expected behaviors whether they win or lose. Remind them of what they can say if they win (good game, that was fun, thanks for playing) as well as what they can say if they lose (that was fun, I'd like to play that again, you played well). You may even want to review what not to say!
Third, demonstrate the expected behaviors. In this game, I make sure that I am not overly excited when I win or disappointed when I lose. I emphasize the fact that I had fun. But I don't want to underestimate the fact that it is fun to win...because it is! Balance is important!
Another important thing to practice is finishing the game even if you know that you will lose. For example, I remember one night it took more than 10 minutes for Big Sister to make the only possible move she could make on the checkers board that allowed me to jump her last piece and end the game. We made her finish the game and we made her be the one to move the piece. Now, when I won, I didn't make a big deal of it and I praised her for her choices.
We focused on how she played and how much she learned (and reminded her that I have like 30 more years experience playing than she does) and how as she plays more, the better she'll get. I want her to be disappointed about losing, that will drive her to try harder and learn better strategies. But mostly, I want good sportsmanship behaviors regardless of the outcome of the game.
To practice these skills, I developed the quick and easy Lose-Win Game. Because so little time is involved in winning or losing this game, the emotional part is removed almost completely. Or at least you can get over losing more quickly!
Set It Up!
Print out a copy of the game (link at the end of this post!). Cut out enough game cards for everyone to draw one card. There will be one "Win" card and the rest will be "Lose" cards. Fold each game card in half. Also grab a paper bag or old gift bag and toss in the folded game cards.
You Can Do It!
To play the game have all the players sit in a circle and discuss the things you could say when someone wins. Write it down or draw a pic