Your child loses the soccer game (or basketball, or football, or any other sort of competition).
What do you do? What do you say?
Here’s what I hear parents say most often:
- Don’t be sad. There will be other games.
- It was a nice try.
- You didn’t really lose. It’s the experience that counts.
- You are still a winner.
Although nothing is necessarily “bad” with the statements above, I believe they are more disempowering than empowering, especially right after the game is over. Your child is upset, tired, exhausted, disappointed, sad, maybe angry, and dehydrated. Their “thinking mind” (prefrontal cortex, higher levels of cognition and understanding) is not able to engage. Emotions are raw and overwhelming right after the game. Also, children fear being judged and disappointing their parents (this deserves another article, stay tuned!).
What to Do/ What to Say right after the game:
- Give them a hug. Embrace them with open arms.
- Say nothing.
- Let them tell you how they feel, or “what happened out there”.
- LISTEN. Don’t rush them to finish the story. Allow the moments of silence if they happen. Not every second has to be filled with talking.
- Understand that your listening and non-judgemental presence is already helping your child heal the loss.
- Trust that your listening is actually building their resiliency over time.
- If you feel triggered by their game loss, please check in with yourself immediately. Pause. Do not make your story their story.