Student Resources

Learning How to Lose

Have you ever mind yourself intervening when you saw your kid was about to lose or make a mistake? We all know it’s difficult to lose/fail and sometimes we hope it is something our kids never have to go through. However, learning to lose is an important journey in child development!
Watching the men’s Olympic badminton singles final tonight was heartbreaking – such a hard-fought match and at the end of it, there will definitely be 1 winner and 1 loser. The agony of the loser is so hard to describe in words. But learning how to lose is one of the most important lessons for our kids to learn.
Here’s how we can support their learning and understanding of losing as something they can learn from, rather than something they want to avoid.

  1. Don’t overemphasise winning. Yes, winning after working hard is always what we want; and watching our kids lose after they’ve worked hard is also very difficult to witness. However, if we set the goal at winning (and only that), then when they do lose, it will be extremely devastating.
  2. Prepare them for possible outcomes. Help them to think ahead of what could be possible results e.g. they could win, they could lose, it could be a draw. And talk through what it might feel like, what it would mean to them etc. This way they might still feel disappointed if they lose (which is normal) but won’t be unable to recover after this.
  3. Help them come to terms with the lessons from losing. It could be something they learnt about what it means to compete, something they learnt about themselves, or just how to do better next time. That way, the experience is not a wasted one just because
    of a loss.
  4. If you are giving feedback, talk about the process and effort rather than a personality trait. e.g. “Perhaps thinking back, it might have been good to consult your teacher before making that decision. What do you think?” as opposed to “That was so rash of
  5. Recognise their emotions and be there for them. Try to imagine what they are going through, and avoid terms like ‘at least you…’ or ‘surely you should feel proud that you came in 2nd’ because those terms can make them feel worse. Instead, just sit there with their emotions “It looks like you are suffering. Can I sit with you?”

Attribute to:
Shaen Yeo
Founder, Positive Education
Parenting Group:

Here’s another child development article for you: Growth Mindset Questions To Ask your Child

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