26/05/2009 05:11 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Ask Joanne: Competitive Kids - My Son Is A Bad Loser

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Andree writes:

My son is nearly eight, and he loves playing games – cards, basketball, board games, table football, you name it! But, he is incredibly competitive which means when he loses he often gets upset and storms off crying.

I've tried explaining that he needs to learn to be calmer, that nobody likes a bad loser and that no one will play with him if he's like this. All to no avail.

Have you any other tactics I can try?

Hi Andree

Good sportsmanship is a great quality to encourage in your young man, but getting there may involve a few more tears and tantrums. And do bear in mind that this is a very normal stage that many boys of his age will go through. Eventually this stage will pass and he will be on to something else.

The first thing I would encourage you to do is not to stop playing games with him. It's great if he can play games in the safe environment of his family and work out his emotions with you. But also make a point of encouraging him to play games where there is no winner or loser. Here are some examples of co-operative games where players work together as a team. My little boy likes the circus one.

Praise and encourage his good qualities – sometimes excessive competitiveness is a sign that a child is feeling insecure about the things they can and can't do. Keep your eyes and ears open for any other part of his life that he may be feeling frustrated about. Talk to him about the things he can do when he feels angry, like taking deep breaths and counting to ten.

How do the rest of the family play games? Is there a competitive Dad or Mum on the scene? If you can see where he 's picking up the behaviour from, maybe you can change your competitiveness and become a role model for good sportsmanship.

all the best


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