We often talk about this in the Calm Parenting Community and I think the question “how can I help my child who hates losing” is such an important one because it’s really setting up their sense of identity and mental health.
To preface my answer, I want to share a little of my experience of playing with one of my children when they were younger. I’ll be honest; when they lost at a game it totally overwhelmed me. Their screaming, crying, throwing, anger and the time it took to come down embarrassed me, overwhelmed me and brought out the worst parts of me. So I used to let them win because I just didn’t have the energy,
So I get it. I didn’t know that I hadn’t yet learned the skills of helping someone with their anger, because I hadn’t been taught myself.
But this is where children need their parent to be the mindful, gentle parent so that they can lead a child and guide them through what’s hard for them. The first part of this is allowing your child to lose it and you keep things safe for them. Don’t fall down the logic trap of explanations as this level of emotion needs a feelings connection to make it safe.
Use your empathy to show you get it, stay in the moment with your child, let them know through your behaviour, voice tone and body language that they are ok, it’s ok to lose and that you get how hard this is for them.
What your child needs from you in that moment is regulation and this starts with you regulating yourself. So be honest, what goes on inside of you when these big explosions happen. Are you able to stay connected to you or is your mind in a whirr, feeling unsteady, angry or out control?
Remember that you are re-learning the process of regulating yourself too, so this takes time but something that you can’t expect a child to do alone. They regulate when you regulate.
And here is where the fun begins!
If you’re looking for low cost support with enhancing your skills for regulation of yourself and your child, join us in the Calm Parenting Club.