My three boys are all playing basketball this season (my favorite season of sports…see this post if you missed it). They are at various stages of competition – one at the high school level, one at the middle school level, and one who’s competing for the first time. What I’ve discovered, is that for all three of them, they don’t like to lose a game. No surprise there. It’s not that they cry or storm off, but they are usually a little bit down. I know that’s a perfectly normal reaction, but as a parent, my natural inclination is to try to make them feel better. I’ve now learned to let them wallow and do not under any circumstances try to boost their mood. Here are ten responses I have said after a game loss and have learned never, ever to say again:
- Great Game! That will only earn you dirty looks and possible yelling that it wasn’t a great game. It was a terrible game, which they lost.
- You played your hardest and that’s what counts. No, according to your child, that is not what counts, especially when he had 2 fouls, 3 turnovers, and sat out the final period of the game.
- At least you had fun out there. No, he did not have fun because they lost and that sucks.
- You’ll get them next time. How do you know? There might not be a next time, not this season, and probably not ever.
- At least it was a close game. Who cares, we still lost.
- There were some bad calls in the game. Now you might get some support on this one. Kids love nothing better than to blame the refs, the coach, the other players. If we’re going to start faulting others for the loss, your kid will be all over that.
- Let’s go get some ice cream and forget about it. For some kids, this might work, but most will tell you they are not babies who think they can forget about the loss with a cone of chocolate chip cookie dough. Funny, it always works for me.
- I’m sorry, I know it’s tough to lose. This is the empathy approach, which can sometimes be the right way to go, but no one feels any better. You might even cause some tears with that one.
- You may have lost but your team played like winners. This sounds waaayy too corny coming out of my mouth, and my kids will call me on that one immediately.
- You know what I do when I lose a game like one of my tennis matches? I go shopping. It’s called retail therapy honey. Wanna try it? It always works for me! I know, this may not work for boys but it’s worth a try because 1-9 are sure to fail. And even if he doesn’t want to go shopping, you can always buy something (like that new pair of leather boots you’ve had your eye on) to lift yourself up from feeling so bad for your son’s loss.
Do you say the wrong things to your child after he or she loses a game?