Sore Loser

Posted by Phil Bettison on

Are you a sore loser?

I taught middle school drama. To clarify, it was the stage kind of drama. The students needed no help creating their own drama. Middle school theatre. Fun, right? Oh yeah! I had a blast. I only taught for one year, so I have quite a bit of experience. (that’s a joke). I’m a big proponent of giving students opportunities, so I tried really hard to cast as many students as possible in the spring musical. Not everyone had speaking roles, but I would find a place for everyone on stage.

For this particular production, there were three, THREE students, that auditioned for a specific role, weren’t best for that role, so were offered parts in the chorus. After a few emails and a phone call with the students and parents as to why they weren’t suited for the role, I encouraged them to participate in the chorus, still get stage time, and gain experience. Only one chose to continue with the show and learned quite a bit. The student later came back to thank me for encouraging them to keep on the course. The other two dropped the production before it even began. I’m not sure what they learned from the experience, but I know they didn’t learn anything about performing on stage. Or about the character trait of working hard even when you don’t get what you want.

I’ll admit, I was a sore loser growing up and I taught myself not to participate in activities unless I knew I would be successful. Games weren’t games because I wanted to win. So, I missed out on a lot. I saw that my friends didn’t like playing with a competitive sore loser. I had a nickname that I’d rather not share, but it starts with “take a chill pill”. As a parent, what can you do for your children? There are pressures to succeed, to win, but there are more things to learn from failure than from winning.

If you see “sore loser” syndrome in your kids, here are some helpful things you can do:

Model:  How do YOU react when you’re not successful? Your children are watching you, whether they are 3 years old or 18 years old.

Don’t intentionally let your child win:  When you’re playing board games or sports, let your child lose! Practice losing in a good way.

Practice being a good winner:  When your child does win at something, help them remember what it feels like to lose and have them show kindness and empathy to those they played with. Shake a hand, say, “thanks for playing with me!”. Have them focus on the joy of playing, regardless of who won or lost.


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