How to support your child with losing

How to support your child with losing

Losing, whether you are 6 or 60, is not a nice feeling. When becoming involved in competitive sport you are opening yourself up to the possibility of experiencing loss. But losing doesn’t have to be this hugely dreaded outcome it so often appears. Ways exist that enable us not only to cope with but also gain from our losses. As a parent you can support your child and nurture the skills they need to manage present and future losses.


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What we all need to remember about losing:

  • Failure shouldn’t be viewed as the opposite to success. Rather than associating it with complete defeat, acknowledge the importance of failing. Some of our most valuable lessons are learnt as a result of loss and can be a stepping stone to success.
  • It is okay to be upset and emotional. Failure is painful so allow children to express their hurt and make sure they know that you’re there to help them through their sadness.


How to support your child:


Allow space and time

Immediately after a loss, your child may be at their most sensitive. Give your child time to reflect on events as opposed to immediately jumping in with feedback. Listen to how they feel about the loss and then help them to frame it in a more positive light, highlighting the value losses can have.


Set a good example

Your child may be watching to see how you react to the loss, consequently using this as a basis for their own reaction and feelings. Keeping calm, modelling good sportsmanship and staying positive can encourage children to do the same as they recognise their loss isn’t the end of the world. What’s the primary reason children play sport? To have fun! Help them to remember this.


Focus on the positive

It’s better to do something rather than nothing. The very act of being involved and putting in effort is worth celebration. Highlight your child’s efforts and achievements during the game. Did they perform a spectacular save? Did they deliver an outstanding serve? Acknowledge any improvements made and successes gained to encourage positive thinking.


Determine lessons learnt

When your child is ready to talk through the loss, guide them through the lessons they can learn from the experience and how they can use this to help them in their next competition, game or event.


Be your child’s number 1 supporter

As a parent, you’re your child’s number 1 supporter no matter what! It is the coaches primary job to help improve skill and ensure the experience is fun; it is a parent’s job to be there for their child to provide support and be a source of unconditional love. Let them know that whether they win or lose you will always be proud of them and will always be by their side.


Losing is inevitable in life, it sounds pessimistic but in fact acknowledging that failure is a part of life can help. How does the saying go? It is better to have tried and failed than to have never tried at all. Sport may invite the chance of failure but avoiding sport has greater consequences. So many missed opportunities are born out of fear of failure and damage can be done if losing comes without support. We want children to enjoy sports and not be discouraged by loss, but in fact be motivated. It is okay for children to be upset following a loss, it is our job as parents to provide support and help them reframe the loss, highlighting that to lose is to learn.