Building Resilience After Losing the Game: 7 Powerful Ways to Help Your Kid Thrive

When it comes to sports, kids experience a gamut of emotions. The thrill of the win, the bitter disappointment of the loss. It doesn’t weigh in heavier than when they’ve worked hard, trained, and given their all to their team – only to come up short at the end of the game. This is a reality that many parents, schools, and coaches need to prepare for. While it’s natural for your child to feel like all is lost after losing the game, there are ways you can help them cope with the disappointment. As adults, we have many strategies for dealing with adversity – but kids often need an extra hand to understand and process their emotions. Here are 7 ways to help your kid cope after losing the game:

1. Acknowledge and Accept the Loss

Losing the big game can be a hard pill to swallow for your kid, and it can leave them feeling disheartened and distressed. As a parent, you have the challenge of helping them pick up the pieces, acknowledge their loss, and find ways to move forward. First, it’s important to help them recognize their feelings and validate their emotions. Allow them to express their disappointment, sadness, and frustration in a safe and supportive environment. Acknowledge their feelings and let them know that their emotions are valid, even if they lost the game. Encourage open communication, allowing them to express their emotions without judgment. By creating a safe space for them to share their feelings, you lay the foundation for healthy coping mechanisms.

2. Highlight the Learning Opportunity

Create a learning opportunity for your child with these talking points. Instead of dwelling on the negative aspects of losing, shift the focus towards the learning opportunity it presents. Discuss the value of learning from defeat and making mistakes. Help your child understand that losing a game can teach valuable lessons about resilience, determination, and sportsmanship. Encourage self-reflection by asking questions like, “What could you have done differently?” or “What did you learn from this experience?” By fostering a growth mindset, you empower your child to see setbacks as stepping stones to improvement.

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Building Resilience After Losing The Game: 7 Powerful Ways To Help Your Kid Thrive

3. Encourage Healthy Perspective

In a competitive world, it’s easy for children to develop an obsession with winning. Help them gain a healthier perspective by reminding them that winning isn’t everything. Encourage them to focus on the enjoyment of playing, the bonds formed with teammates, and the personal growth that comes from participating in sports. Teach them that effort, dedication, and good sportsmanship are qualities that truly matter and will benefit them in the long run.

Building Resilience After Losing The Game: 7 Powerful Ways To Help Your Kid Thrive

4. Focus on Effort and Progress

Regardless of the game’s outcome, celebrate your child’s effort and hard work. Recognize the time and dedication they put into their preparation and training. Highlight their achievements and progress, emphasizing that improvement is a journey that transcends individual games. Encourage them to set goals for themselves and work towards them, focusing on personal growth rather than comparing themselves to others.

6. Engage in Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement plays a vital role in helping children cope after a losing game. Praise your child’s sportsmanship and positive attitude, emphasizing the importance of displaying respect towards teammates, opponents, and officials. Highlight their strengths and areas of improvement, providing specific feedback to help them understand their progress. Let them know that you believe in their abilities and that their efforts are commendable.

7. Find Other Opportunities to Succeed

It is important to remind your kid that a setback does not mean the end of the road. Encourage them to find other opportunities to pursue their interest and succeed. Maybe they can volunteer for a cause they are passionate about or take on a part-time job. An alternative might be to join a new club or take an online course.

Develop Skills: Losing the big game is an opportunity to help your child acquire new skills. For instance, they can work on their public speaking skills by joining a debate team or enhance their music skills by joining a choir. Developing new skills can help them develop their self-esteem and find success in other areas.

Pursue Creative Activities: Creativity can be a great outlet for children to cope with their disappointment. Encourage your kid to pursue creative activities like painting, writing, or pottery. This can help them express their emotions and channel their energy into something productive.

Building Resilience After Losing The Game: 7 Powerful Ways To Help Your Kid Thrive

If your child is old enough, you can also put them in front of a game console. Digital games are an excellent source of entertainment, and these activities can be a great way for your child to have a positive distraction while they process their emotions.

READ MORE: A Parent’s Guide to Esports Game

Make Social Connections: Social connections can be a great way for kids to get out of their head and focus on something else. Encourage your kid to invest in their friendships and join clubs and organizations that match their interests. They can also use this opportunity to create meaningful relationships with people.

Build Resiliency: Losing the big game can be a great opportunity for your child to build resiliency. Teach them how to accept failure, pick themselves up, and come back stronger. Also, remind them to focus on the things they can control and celebrate small wins. This can help them cultivate a growth mindset and become more resilient.


No matter what happens, it’s important to offer your child encouragement and show them unconditional love and support. Remember to focus on the effort they put into the game and the positive aspects that came out of it, too. Let them know it is okay to be disappointed. By engaging in fun activities and focusing on building character, your child will be able to process their emotions in a healthy way and remain emotionally strong.

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Jeri
Jeri
Appellate attorney, writer, and mom with a weakness for compulsive planning, Britney Spears' comeback, and reality TV. In my 30-something pre-baby life, I thought I had life somewhat figured out. Now, I realize how much I didn't know. It's a whole new world rediscovering life through my children. In my free time, you can find me lounging with family or on the tennis court.

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