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My four-year-old has to win at every game we play, regardless of who he plays with. When he loses,he starts to cry. How can I help him to change this behavior?


Rhonda Clements Replied: It is normal for many four year old children to have difficulties sharing, playing games where there is a winner and a loser, and not becoming emotional. Continue to praise the child's good behavior when playing with other children, and by age six or seven your child will likely realize that "it is Ok to lose" and still have fun in the process.
Posted On 2007-04-01 17:38:32
Trish Booth, MA Replied: Four-year-olds want to be in control and that makes winning very important. Explaining that you can't always win and that losers shouldn't cry will not change the behavior. Time and the normal development process will improve his reaction. Until then: · Minimize the emphasis on who won. · Find creative ways to keep score, such as personal best rather than comparative best. · Praise what he did well in the game both during play and afterward. · Increase the number of cooperative games that use some of your son's well-developed skills. · Ignore the crying as much as you can. · Divert his attention to another activity when he starts crying.
Posted On 2005-06-08 15:52:17
Dr. Steven Kairys Replied: Model other behaviors at home with his family. Give praise for effort and not result. Make sure that other family members don't model a win at any cost approach.
Posted On 2005-05-31 06:35:12
Sally Goldberg, Ph.D. Replied: For some reason, he has learned that winning is very important--the goal for playing a game. There are two things that you need to do. 1. Increase the number of games he plays that are not competitive and in which there are no winners, only opportunities to participate. Examples are throwing bean bags into a plastic tub or taking turns matching lotto cards. There are many more. An excellent source of well over 100 of these is the book Make Your Own Preschool Games available on 2. If he has to be involved in a competitive game (which I do not recommend under the age of 6), take every opportunity you can during the game to point out small successes. As you point them out, it is not necessary to praise them with words like "Good throw" and "good catch." Use descriptive phrases like "You threw the ball far" and "You used 2 hands to catch the ball." With these 2 strategies you should see a big change. Your child will actually experience the lesson he needs to learn which is, "It does not matter if you win or lose. It is how you play the game." More related information is in the book Constructive Parenting, also found on
Posted On 2005-05-29 12:18:49
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