There are many ways that soccer can help kids get ready for school or daycare, and learning about winning and losing is one of them. The completion of the first round of soccer means the elimination portion has begun where only the teams that win will play any more games. Coping with wins and losses can be a challenge for adults, so imagine how much harder it is for kids.
Young children have likely had some experiences with things not being equal; maybe baby sister gets the cuddle or big brother gets an ice cream treat. However, children’s understanding about what it means to win or lose or what it means to be fair is still developing. Experiences may sometimes be hard but generally, parents and other caregivers try to make learning about winning and losing less hurtful for young children. We can’t shield kids from it all the time, but we can help them learn gently.
When we watch a soccer or other game, nearly everyone is cheering for one team or the other. Kids like to do what they see grownups doing, so they will cheer too. They may know the name of the team and have favorite players. Kids may not be able to count accurately, but they can recognize who is who by their numbers. Kids are not only watching the game, they are also watching us. For kids to cope with winning or not, they need to know that it is safe to lose.
Our reactions to a loss will influence a child. We need to ‘show and tell’ that we feel disappointed but that we accept it. With some days having more than one or two soccer games, kids will have lots of opportunities to watch and hear us.
This will impact children especially when they become more independent at preschool and kindergarten.There are lots more kids than teachers and caregivers in a classroom and not every child can be first in line, or gets a turn that day with the big music drum. Sigh, it’s hard to learn but seeing grownups dealing with winning and losing appropriately can help kids learn this, too. It’s more than a kindergarten readiness skill, it’s a life skill! In the meantime, how’s your team doing at soccer?
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