Help Your Child Cope With The “Agony Of Defeat”

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MADISON, Wis. – Summer sports competitions mean lots of children will have to wrestle with the disappointment of defeat in sports.

Parents can help by acknowledging the child’s feelings.

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That’s the advice of Dr. Claudia Reardon of the department of psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

“Saying something as simple as, ‘I understand you’re feeling upset that you didn’t win the race’ can open up a discussion and let them know you’re there to listen,” says Reardon, an expert on sports psychiatry.

Focus on the things that went right on the playing field.

“Then you can examine whatever went wrong as an opportunity for the child to improve his or her skills,” Reardon says.

Look at the big picture.

“I find it useful to ask children if they think their favorite athletes ever make a bad play or lose a race, and then decide to quit,” she says.

Reardon urges parents to make sure that sports disappointment doesn’t slide into bad sportsmanship.


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