I have seen multiple discussions online recently about dealing with win oriented child... or, as I say, dealing with a sore loser.
It was intriguing to me to see a conversation break down into two different lines:
One school of thought said it was a good thing.
That this means their athlete was an uber competitor and that they would never lose.
They cited the example of Cristiano Ronaldo and how that was his attitude as a youth player.
The other school of thought? They thought poor sportsmanship was detrimental to the long term development.
I am inclined to agree with the second school of thought (though I see the merits from the first argument.)
I agree that we want our players to be aggressive and compete, and we do not want them to be tamped down.
However, I also want players that people respect as well. That they can say: "Wow, those are great players but even better people."
When people bring up this argument saying, "I don't want to quench the player’s fight or competitive spirit by saying calling them on their poor sport…" they are missing the point.
Your player can hate to lose but still be classy winners. We miss out on what sports can teach us about life when we conflate competitiveness with poor sportsmanship.
Life is not all about winning or losing. You may be successful in one area of your life and struggling in another. How you respond shows a lot about your character.
John Wooden said it best :
“All of life is peaks and valleys. Don’t let the peaks get too high and the valleys too low."
John Wooden was an awesome winner and competitor(11 time NCAA college champion) but never to the detriment of his character and his players' development.
So what can you the parent do?
First, talk to your parents about your expectations. No matter, you want them to be greater people than greater soccer players.
Two, Model the behavior you want to see. For example:
Play board games with your child.
If you lose, show your player how to congratulate the winner respectfully and humbly accept the win.
Watch your own poor sportsmanship.
Do not accept bad-mouthing the opponents or (even more, opposing) parents after the game. No matter how poor you feel they acted, take the high road!
These are things that you can do to help your player preserve their competitive spirit and also be people of character.
Winning is not everything, nor is it not the only thing. It is what we take from the wins and losses which make us into amazing people.