Help! My son is a sore loser!

by | How Would You Answer This? | 4 comments

My almost 7yo boy likes to play games. However, if he makes a wrong move, answers wrong, or loses the game, his face is immediately red and the dam breaks with floods of tears. He is an only child, so no siblings to help him with this.

I’ve tried lately to play more games with him to work on his attitude but I am at a loss. We’ve talked about winning, losing and having fun playing the game, it’s okay to want to win, but it’s important to be gracious whether you win or lose, etc. etc. – but nothing works. His personality is dramatic and emotional “I can’t believe I missed that!”. Human pride at its peak. He bounces back quickly, apologizes and wants to play another game – but I’m at my wit’s end.

Is this just common at this age? Any advice? Do I keep playing with him and going on this merry-go-round? Please help!

Thanks in advance, praying for patience and wisdom, Bethany


  1. Terri Sue

    Our son was like this also at this age. We also noted that the anger spilled over to anytime things didn’t go his way. What we did was a combination of “time outs” – he had to sit quietly for 10 minutes and then come back and talk about it – this showed him how often it was happening and gave me time to stay calm. The time didn’t start until he was quiet. If he argued, I would just state “I love you too much to argue” and wait for him to get quiet.This came from “Love and Logic parenting”.

    The other thing we did was using a topical Bible called “Instructions for Righteousness” we showed him how God wants him to act. Then it wasn’t so much “our” rules but God’s rules for our family. The proverbs that say a foolish man shows anger really woke our son up – he was about 8 then.

    Your son may be a perfectionist, ours is and it is still hard on him (now 14) when he can’t get it right the first time, but because we took the time early on, he now knows how to control his temper and emotions.

    God bless,
    Terri Sue

  2. Monika Genehr

    I’d say keep playing and when you lose, pretend to be heartbroken and shed some tears. Your son might console you with a hug and the same words you’ve been telling him. I knew a child like your son and that child is very sensitive, deeply caring, and a perfectionist even today, being in college now.

  3. Julie

    I think a lot of this is personality and maturity. My son was used to always winning everything. We put him into competitive chess at about your son’s age, and there were kids there that he was never going to beat no matter how much he studied. He would cry and get upset and make excuses in the beginning. The coach finally took him aside and gave him a firm, but loving, lecture on how that cheated the winner out of his well-deserved victory. I don’t think he had ever thought about it that way.

    He’s still very competitive; it’s his nature. The control comes slowly, but it does come.

  4. SheilaG

    Personally, I wouldn’t make an overly big deal out of it yet. He’s 7, and part of being young is learning how to (a) identify your emotions and (b) learn to deal with your emotions. Many people are competitive, and that, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. Apparently boys who are competitive tend to do much better in school, and schools that encourage competitiveness tend to bring out the best in boys. Especially with males, it’s often wired that way!

    The problem, as you’ve identified, comes when they start judging themselves in terms of “works”, or start feeling proud of themselves for it. So after playing a game, I would reinforce what you know is true about your son, and reward him for TRYING, not just for accomplishing. In your house, keep the language of trying more positive than the language of winning. So say “congratulations for putting in such an effort”. We do that in school, too. If they try at math, but don’t do well, they get praised much more than if it was an easy lesson they breezed through.

    And just keep talking about how God sees us. I wouldn’t lecture him at 7, I would just surround him with truth. And if he does act out, say matter-of-factly, “time to get outside and kick a soccer ball!”. Help him to learn to identify the feeling he has–anger at losing–and connect that with a strategy–time to absent myself and find a way to work this feeling out of my system.

    Hope that helps!


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