My 9-year-old son has a hard time being a good sport when he plays games with his friends. He’s not happy unless he wins, and he gets very upset when he thinks the other kids aren’t following the rules. How can we help him overcome this?
It sounds like your son may do best in structured activities supervised by adults. You should tell him that his behavior tells you that he needs this level of supervision, so you’ll be watching him closely during playtime until he shows that he can make better choices. If necessary, remove him from the situation when problems arise. To show him how his behavior affects others, help him imagine the experience from the other child’s perspective. Emphasize the relationship between how he treats others and their continued interest in including him in their games. If his behavior doesn’t improve, consider taking him to a social skills group, which will help him feel more accepted when playing with others.
Dr. Patti Zomber is a child psychologist based in Marina del Rey, Calif. She has written numerous articles about parenting, and she is a contributing editor on NestleFamily.com as well as the editor of the Los Angeles Psychologist journal.