With a little help, your child can learn how to handle losing.

One of life’s hardest lessons is that we don’t always win. It’s true whether your child plays sports or just enjoys playing games with friends. Teaching your child to be OK with losing helps her grow up. How can you do that?

Focus on the Fun, Not the Result
“This teaches kids that winning isn’t the only, or most important, outcome of an activity,” says Anne Glowinski, MD, MPE, a Washington University child psychiatrist at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. “If kids really enjoy what they’re doing, they’ll want to give it 100 percent the next time they try.”

Keep It Positive
You don’t want kids to feel too ashamed about losing.

“Shame is a very painful emotion,” Dr. Glowinski says. “Kids will avoid it at all costs—even if it means quitting the activity.”

That’s true if they lose on the field or in the classroom, she adds. Kids who aren’t athletic usually need to exercise more. Kids who need help with classwork may give up to avoid the shame of not measuring up.

“Help kids focus on learning to get up when they fall,” Dr. Glowinski says. “Tomorrow is another day, and trying to get better is really important.”

Call the St. Louis Children’s Hospital Center for Families Resource Library at 314.454.KIDS (5437) and press “5” for more resources to help your child deal with life’s ups and downs.