Son very competitive, he's only in Reception

(32 Posts)
MsGus Wed 28-Sep-16 19:39:10

My son who will soon be 5, is ridiculously competitive. He wants to ein everything. When he loses, he cries like the worse posdible thing has happened to him. He will even stop the game or competition if he realises he is about to lose. I want him to learn that losing is part of life and it is a matter of dusting yourself up and trying harder next time. I don't want him to be discouraged by losing when it happens in life.

This is a boy who genuinely thinks he can run faster than Usain Bolt, swim faster than Michael Phelps, etc.

Anyone else have a child who is extremely competitive? How do you deal with this?

Glitterspy Wed 28-Sep-16 19:45:13

I think you have the wrong definition of competitive here. It doesn't sound like he's massively competitive imho (otherwise he wouldn't stop a game he wasn't going to win - he'd keep playing to make sure he won)...it sounds like he's a sore loser.

How does he react when he loses simple games at home? Snap, bingo, those sorts of things? Have you always let him win? Maybe encourage playing those kinds of games a lot for a few weeks ands sure he experiences winning and losing.

When he loses, quick oh well DS, well done [winner], move on. Good luck with it. Losing well is a massively important skill to be successful in life I do believe that.

WallisFrizz Wed 28-Sep-16 19:48:54

When you play games with him at home, do you let him win? My DS has slowly got better at losing but it has taken practise, lots of talking to him about how we'd be just if not more proud of good sportsmanship than we would of him winning a race. We also make sure that if we are playing games at home, we don't let him win to avoid upset.

Caroian Wed 28-Sep-16 20:33:17

I think this is pretty typical of young children and unfortunately, like everything else, the ability to lose well needs to be learned. My son is also in Reception and not always the greatest loser. We've worked hard at it by playing lots of games at home (best if they are games usually won or lost on chance rather than skill, as there is no way to "let" them win other than by cheating - so things like Snakes and Ladders, Ludo etc). As above, when he loses we say "well done" to the winner and "nevermind, it just wasn't your day for winning". If he throws a strop, we put the games away and refuse to play. Because he likes to play again to see if he can win next time, he now rarely throws a strop! His preschool were good at doing similar things too.

MrsHiddleston Wed 28-Sep-16 20:36:40

I too wouldn't describe this as competitive. I would however say this behaviour is fairly typical at his age. Do you let him win games at home? He needs to learn how to lose gracefully and be better at picking himself up when he loses. This will come with practice of you beat h from time to time and 'tell him off' when he acts like a sore loser.

MsGus Wed 28-Sep-16 22:59:38

Sore losers is a fair description although I would say most adults are sore losers, just that we learn how to behave ourselves when we lose. We learn how to seethe on the inside.

He bounces back and wants to compete again. It's just that he sees everything as a competition and he has an inflated sense of his ability.

I do not allow him to always win. I try to strike the right balance. Even his teachers say he is very competitive. Winning means so much to him that I feel he will get discouraged when he realises he is not super human and the best at everything. I want him to be spurred on by losses rather than feel defeated.

I guess it is a matter of working with him. I have started stopping games if he throws a tantrum or tries to cheat.

Good to know most kids are like that.

mrsHiddleston Thu 29-Sep-16 07:04:34

They really are. Mine was exactly the same, he's grown out of it now. You just need to use some of the advice given on here. Encourage praise on others who win and beat him at something. And tell him being a sore loser is not acceptable. There is nothing wrong with being competitive but it shouldn't be at the expense of other people's feelings.

rollonthesummer Thu 29-Sep-16 07:08:33

Sore losers is a fair description although I would say most adults are sore losers, just that we learn how to behave ourselves when we lose. We learn how to seethe on the inside.

I honestly don't recognise that description! I seethe about plenty of things-losing at a game is not one of them!!

MsJuniper Thu 29-Sep-16 07:20:42

My almost-4 is also a sore loser and also thinks he can run faster than Usain Bolt! I think it is normal in children and particularly after a summer where there has been a lot of focus on sports and winning.

We have treated it in the same way as sharing, talking at neutral times about how sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, what to say to the winner etc. The first time he lost to DH at S&L and managed to smile and congratulate him, it was a lovely moment and we gave him lots of praise for it.

We don't "let him win" but of course when learning games there is a bit of leeway to encourage him, eg when learning matching pairs, we might not pick up an obvious pair ourselves but leave it for his turn. As soon as he gets the hang of it, all bets are off!

The useful thing is that we can exploit his tendencies at bedtime or when getting dressed etc by setting him a target or race.

christinarossetti Thu 29-Sep-16 07:33:13

But some adults do seeth, sulk, get angry when they lose rollonsummer.

Most children that age are sore losers, and can't repress their anger and disappointment. Losing requires more complex emotions than winning and it takes children longer to learn to process these internally.

claraschu Thu 29-Sep-16 07:48:27

I think it is important not to overvalue being ""good" at things, and not to pay much attention to prizes, certificates, accolades, grades, etc. I think that if we, as parents, genuinely value the process of learning, the joy of participating, and pretty much ignore all the rest of it, our kids will learn that attitude from us.

MsGus Thu 29-Sep-16 18:54:04

Rollonsummer I was not only referring to losing a game. I'm referring to losing in general (eg not getting a promotion, losing a competition, someone getting something we wanted, losing out on the best seat in the train, stadium, missing out on something or the other, etc, etc). No one enjoys losing. As adults we know how to manage and mask our disappointment.

ErgonomicallyUnsound Thu 29-Sep-16 19:58:52

I have a soon to be 13 yo who is the most competitive child I've ever come across. grin <--- see what I did there?!

He's always been like it. It makes life hard, especially when surrounded by uncompetitive children. He's very good at sport, but his specialism is a team game and when things aren't going his way he's foul. When things are going his way, he's also foul. But it's also what makes him really bloody good at what he does. It means that in his superselective school he's never going to be at the bottom of the class, no matter how much he hates the subject or finds it hard. Teachers find him both a challenge and exciting. PE teachers hate him, sports coaches love him.

He's Marmite. grin

AGenie Thu 29-Sep-16 22:41:47

I read some good advice in "calmer easier happier boys". It said that if an adult is playing a game against a child then it is good to give the adult and handicap in the game so the child knows that he is not constantly at a disadvantage from being young. Then both came play at their very best to win the game.

We tried this today with a magnetic darts game. In darts you start with a large score and subtract each time the dart hits a number. The first person to reach zero wins.

So today I started with 200 and ds started with 100. I meant we could both play seriously and compete, and ds took losing much better as he knew that he had not been playing at a disadvantage.

The book that I mention above is very helpful about this stuff. Well worth a read.

Losingtheplod Fri 30-Sep-16 00:07:08

My DS was like that at 5. He has got a lot better over the last few years. I think it is important to praise effort, not results, but other than that I think it improves with maturity. DS joined a football team, and they lost the vast majority of their games for the first couple of seasons. The practice seems to have done him goos and he has now learned to lose gracefully, most of the time at least.

PerspicaciaTick Fri 30-Sep-16 00:18:11

we learn how to behave ourselves when we lose

So teach your DS how to behave when he loses. Play a game with him (preferably with you and DP) and model good losing. When someone loses make sure that they behave beautifully (congratulating winner, helping to set up another game etc.) and the loser gets praised for playing so nicely and reminded how much everyone enjoyed playing the game. Masses of lovely positive attention for all the players.

If he kicks off when he loses, then say "Oh dear, we can't carry on playing when you get so cross" or "I don't like playing with you when you get cross about losing" and then put away the game and do something less fun.

He will learn, he'll also grow out of the sore loser phase (if helped to do so).

AnyTheWiser Fri 30-Sep-16 00:26:51

Not everyone seethes when they lose. I certainly don't.
I have lost a lot of games, so maybe I'm inured to losing, but it doesn't bother me in the slightest.
The more games he plays, the more he'll become accustomed to losing (and winning) and learn to enjoy the playing more than the outcome.

avamiah Fri 30-Sep-16 00:47:24

My daughter is 6 and a only child and i noticed this behaviour when she was about 3 or 4.
She was not competitive she had just been spoilt and was used to being the centre of attention and getting her own way.
So i put her in dance class and when she was 5 put her in a kids Judo Club.
It was the best thing i ever did, she still goes and has made lots of friends and isn't that spoilt baby anymore.

user1474781546 Fri 30-Sep-16 06:13:20

Is anyone in your family interested in competition? Sport? Football?
My kids are not competitive at all, and I wondered if this is because neither OH or I have any interest in sport. We also have not really played competitive games much with the kids, I loathe party games.

MsGus Fri 30-Sep-16 07:25:42

Hi User, yes we are very sporty and so is he (running, swimming, judo, football). Even in fun runs, he thinks he has a shot at crossing the line first. He runs the entire 5k.

He just seems to have an inflated sense of his ability and gets upset when he doesn't win. I think a competitive spirit is a good thing but it can easily lead to discouragement and that's the part I want to avoid. I want him to be fuelled by loses not broken down by them.

But it would seem like being a sore loser is a common thing with kids his age. I hope I succeed in helping him to strike the right balance.

user1474781546 Fri 30-Sep-16 07:32:12

I think a competitive spirit is a good thing

Maybe that's your answer then.

We are not a competitive family.

MissDuke Fri 30-Sep-16 11:06:38

You can be competitive without being a sore loser! Your posts make it sound like you think this behaviour is all normal so it sounds like it is the norm within your family. Personally I wouldn't say that it is normal in general. My ds is very competitive in that he tries really hard to win (he certainly wouldn't give up) but copes well if he doesn't win.

Are you modelling to him how to lose graciously? Sorry, I know that sounds really patronising and stupid but it might be the way to go.

MsGus Fri 30-Sep-16 11:12:33

Excuse me???? I make it sound like the norm in my family?

chopchopchop Fri 30-Sep-16 11:17:31

In DD's reception class there was a boy just like this, so I think I understand what you're talking about. He would turn everything into a competition, and then change the rules if it wasn't going his way, and it would have taken a lot more than just modelling losing graciously to change him. (He was also hyper sporty and driven as well). So to some extent it is his nature and you have to work with it.

As you say, there are good aspects to this, but he needs to learn how to channel it. Would he listen more to someone at Rugby Club talking about how to behave and when this is appropriate, or some other extra curricular stuff.

Couple of things that might help: there's a book called 'mistakes that worked' on Amazon, which is all about how great inventions came out of failure. And for you, have a look at the Carol Dweck Mindset book, which I've found very useful - for different reasons - in teaching me how to praise effort rather than achievement

AnyTheWiser Fri 30-Sep-16 17:59:33

Oh, I may not see the or be a sore loser, but I am incredibly competitive.
Maybe that's it- always play fairly with your children. Maybe give them a handicap, but don't let them win.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now