11 answers

7 Year Old Son Sore Loser for Hours After Game

My 7 year old son is an extremly sore loser. It does not matter what the game is or with whom he's playing. If he loses, he will pout, yell, run to his room and slam the door, tell whomever he's playing with, "It's not fair!", and be very angry. He will also change the rules mid-game to his advantage. My husband and I have tried several things: time-outs, telling him we are not going to continue the game with him, not allowing him to play the game for a few days, and sending him to his room until he can control his emotions. Nothing seems to work. I have read a few articles that say this is very normal behavior, especially for a boy. However, I need ideas about how to teach him to be a good sport.

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Something we were always taught was that it wasn't about winning or losing, it's how you play the game. I think that's a little easier to illustrate with sports, but can be taught in everyday life, too. Maybe if the focus isn't about the winning for awhile, he'll stop being so upset about it. Not to say that he doesn't need to learn how to lose gracefully, but sometimes that's all that's paid attention to and that's not always the point. Too bad the Olympics are over - a perfect place to witness it. Good luck!

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M., i would not remove him from the activity. play lots of games with him, board games, tic tac toe, whatever you can think of. be a good example to him, keep being gracious whether you win or lose. explain to him "dad is SO happy he won, look!" and be happy for dad too. make it a family event, to have FUN no matter who wins. refuse to acknowledge his bad sportsmanship. of course, make sure he understands and you explain to him the rules - being happy for WHOever wins. i would enforce that as a rule like any other in the game. and if he choses not to follow the rules, THEN i would stop his participation. (but i'd keep playing with daddy just to show him how much fun he's missing) i would let him know that is an expectation before you even start. i don't think there's a quick fix but keep working on it- it's just like anything else we have to teach them. boys are just so dang competitive! good luck...mine will be right there soon enough!

2 moms found this helpful

My nephew had the same problem but he started much earlier. My SIL has tried just about everything. I think mostly you just have to be patient. Explain that it is ok to lose once in a while and that we should try to be happy for the person who won. Maybe you could try letting him win a game and then cheering for the loosers. This is the wrong time of the year for sports but my SIL put my nephew in Little League stuff to help him understand better. He is 9 now and still has a hard time but he tries really hard to have a good attitude no matter the outcome. It will take time but keep working at it and encouraging him and he will get better.

2 moms found this helpful

I agree this is not normal, but it is kind of a stage where they HAVE to learn good sportsmanship. He apparently has a competitive nature and that's okay, but he must learn now, or you will have a huge problem. There is a book called "Being a Bad Sport" by Joy Berry - Grolier Books - GET IT!! You can probably get it online. In fact, that entire series on "how to be good" is excellent. My now 9 year old had problems with this somewhat and we read that book every night before bed. I saw his behavior change and he began to start showing his brothers how to be a good sport. It shows kids how to enjoy games more because they have become a good sport, and how other children LIKE to play with a good sport. If he doesn't lick this, he will become a bully and none of the kids will want to play with him. This is a serious blow to their socialization as a kid so this needs to be dealt with very seriously, mom. Good Luck!!

2 moms found this helpful

M., I sure would like the names of those articles that said this is "very normal behavior." I find that really hard to believe after raising seven kids. Only one had that issue, and he was excluded from all games until he learned to control the behavior. It didn't take long. You and your husband should try playing alone (I bet you two quit when he gets sent to his room) and enjoying the game to show him an example of how one loses gracefully.

1 mom found this helpful

I remember hearing about a book dealing with this specific issue. The book is for kids & helps them understand that losing is okay. Also...

I remember playing many sports & being a poor sport even as a young girl. Any time my team lost, I wanted to cry but I felt anger as well. I rarely showed any external behavior & I doubt my parents even knew how I felt. I never showed a big amount of poor sportsmanship b/c my parents wouldn't tolerate it & I'd feel worse by disappointing them. But it really bothered me to lose & I know why. I was playing a group sport & couldn't control the other players. I'm not kidding; it was purely for control. I ended up playing singles tennis b/c then there was no one to blame for a lose other than myself. Once I was older, I didn't care as much b/c by then, I realized I had no special talent in any sport that was much better than most above average players & focused on what I was very good at...school.

I'd let your kid try playing singles tennis or other sports that aren't a group activity. If he gets upset over not winning, he can practice more. Refocusing the negative behavior on something positive is the solution, in my humble opinion. I'd also watch in him for control issues, putting a lot of pressure on himself to succeed & a constant desire to over-achieve in everything. I had these issues & look back thinking how much things could have gone amiss had I not turned to school for the outlet.

1 mom found this helpful

Something we were always taught was that it wasn't about winning or losing, it's how you play the game. I think that's a little easier to illustrate with sports, but can be taught in everyday life, too. Maybe if the focus isn't about the winning for awhile, he'll stop being so upset about it. Not to say that he doesn't need to learn how to lose gracefully, but sometimes that's all that's paid attention to and that's not always the point. Too bad the Olympics are over - a perfect place to witness it. Good luck!

Hi, M.!

I'm sure this is frustrating. Here are my ideas and I hope they help!

1. Talk to him about his sportsmanship at a time when you are NOT playing, or about to play, any games. Tell him how much you enjoy being around him when he is making good choices in his behavior. Tell him the kind of improvement you'd like him to work on in his sporstmanship.

2. When you are about to play a game, go over the rules as a family. Make sure all the players understand that the rules do not change during the middle of the game. It helps if you follow the rules that came with the game w/out exception, because then if a question arises, you simply consult the directions provided by the game maker and your son can't argue with the manufacturer!

3. Before the game begins, talk about how whoever wins should be congratulated for winning by the other players. Also discuss that whoever wins should thank the others for playing the game with them. Set up those expectations before the game and if your son can't agree to make those choices, he shouldn't be allowed to play.

4. If during the play of the game, your son is losing and starts getting a bad attitude, I'd explain to him that he has a choice. He can choose to be respectful toward the other players and continue playing, or he may go to his room and complain all he wants about the game. He may return when he is done complaining, but not a second before. I would NOT back down on this. If he wants to complain, he can do it in his room behind a closed door. It's his choice as to when to come out, but he is not to expose the rest of the family to his nasty attitude. This is a hard thing to enforce because we WANT to be around our children, but sometimes the best way for them to learn is to be separated from those they love until they can act lovingly and respectfully.

Of course you probably already know to praise him when he makes good choices with his sportsmanship. Anytime he does well with his attitude, I'd make a point to tell him how much you enjoy playing games with him when he acts like "such a big boy" or whatever helps him feel special. Also, when he's done a good job, ask him if he will play with you again soon. You should also talk to your son about how he feels when he loses at a game, explain to him that his feelings are okay and understandable, but that there are appropriate ways to express them that still show respect to others. He may also benefit from some role playing so he can practice expressing himself in appropriate ways. I think it's important for kids to learn that their FEELINGS are okay, but they need to be careful how they express their feelings. Best of luck to you!

When my son does this (he is also 7), I try to model a sense of humor about it. Instead of making it all serious and punishments, I sort of mirror what he is saying in a funny way: "OH! Woe is me! I lost the game! I think I'm just going to dig a hole and crawl in it and never be seen again! I can't stand it!" Anyway, you get the idea. I think my son feels a lot of pressure, probably from his parents and himself, to do really well at everything. I try to SHOW him that it's not fatal, and we can still have fun. TELLING him doesn't often work, but SHOWing him, by having fun myself, often gets him out of his mood.

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