Some children strongly want to win at any game. Is this because the parents have installed this in their child? Usually NO. Maybe sometimes the concept of winning has been talked about with such pride that the child really wants to win and have that pride. Parents may watch races on TV, or sports, where there is a lot of cheering going on for the winner. Sometimes it is a temporary stage that a child goes through.
However, there are some children for whom winning is the only thing to do, or else total meltdown follows. Or being upset.
I have observed this in many children that I have worked with over the years. These children are those who have a need for perfection and being right. They like any activity to be super clear and straightforward with rigid rules. They have issues with integrating incoming information from their senses and many tasks are an effort, leading to a need for something to stay clear.
Often the other positions at the end of a game are not clear. Do we talk about being second or third with such clarity and emphasis? No. The only way to clarity in a game is to be the winner.
1. Play lots of games, even though the temptation is to avoid them.
2. Play a variety of games where the ending is different to having a clear winner.
3. Prepare the child beforehand. Write the rules down. Ask how s/he will feel if s/he wins. Ask how s/he will feel if get second. Ask how s/he will feel at different points of the games and say how you will feel, so they get an understanding that everyone feels differently at different stages.
4. If it is a game which involves some backwards movements, such as a snakes and ladders type game, encourage the child to have a good look first and chat about it together, creating a sense of fun (even if just on your part) about the game.
5. During the pre-game chat, talk about what's involved in the different parts so that a greater understanding of the essence of the game is developed.
6. If your child becomes upset during the game, treat the upset matter-of-factly. Do not try and persuade your child to feel otherwise. Acknowledge the child's feeling without getting caught up in emotion yourself. Give a few seconds and then carry on with the game. Your child feels upset....that is really okay. Accept it.
7. Do not give in to the temptation to allow the child to win every time. This will compound the issues. Allow the game to decide.
8. If the child becomes upset because s/he has not won, do not say s/he has lost. Say s/he has come second or third or fourth and allow her/him to feel upset. They cannot do away with the feeling. If you try to dissuade them from the feeling they will feel bad about themselves. And you don't want that. Just accept that that is how they feel, and the feeling will dissolve if acceptance takes place. Show acceptance in whatever way is relevant to the child.....words, staying beside them, cuddle.