I found this topic posted on Reddit by a very desperate dad whose 4-Year-old son was crying after he failed to score any goals for his team and lost in the end.
The father went on to say that his son loves playing soccer and ask for advice on how to encourage his son and how to make him a better player.
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There is hope for parents
However, this feeling of helplessness and discouragement can be avoided if you know how to handle the situation and address it.
Obviously, this kid loves playing soccer and that is a good starting point to help him.
Follow these simple tips and your son will be able to handle any loss like a champion and a better soccer player and you will be a proud mum and dad on the sidelines:
1. Win and lose gracefully
Some kids show extreme behavior when they win or lose a soccer match and this leads to other issues like embarrassing their teammates and parents.
When they win they celebrate wildly but when they lose they cried and create a scene.
Nobody gets excited after losing a soccer game and it is understandable that your kid can get upset because naturally, they don’t know how to deal with their emotions.
Here some tips you can follow to help you deal with your kid to help them cope:
- Pregame Talk – Talk to your kid before the game that only one team will win and the other will lose and assure him that losing is fine.
By knowing that his team may lose he will be mentally prepared for the outcome and will not be feeling too devastated.
Also, remind your kid of the expected behavior when celebrating a win. Let him know that it is unkind to make kids on the other team sad.
- Explain The Expected Behavior – Explain to your kid that he or she must show the appropriate behavior when his or her team wins or loses.
When losing he or she should go over to the winning team to congratulate them and tell them that they played very well.
If his or her team won they can celebrate with high 5 and hugs and also console the losing team by telling them they played really well.
- There Is More Than Winning – Make your child understand that there is more to sports than winning. For example, sports are all about having fun, it makes him or her strong and fit, socializing and meeting new friends, and it makes him or her a better person when he or she grows up.
Therefore, it does not matter to you as a parent that his or her team wins or loses because he or she can enjoy the game regardless.
By putting more emphasis on winning and losing gracefully your kid can expand his or her understanding of what to expect in competitive sport and how to control one’s emotions.
2. Focus on his best efforts instead
Instead of discussing the lost goal-scoring opportunities and errors your kid committed on the field, you should shift the focus to the positives.
Talking about the loss will only make matters worse for your kid.
Try the following when consoling your kid:
- Remind your kid how much fun he had on the field
- Tell your kid that you did not keep the score
- Praise your kid for all the things he did correctly on the field
- Make your kid feel that you are proud of his or her efforts
- Give your kid a hug to show that you cared
Make your kid realize that although they lost the game he has performed well for his team.
3. Understand basic soccer game
Most kids at 4 years old don’t fully understand the game of soccer until they are a bit older.
Meanwhile, all they care about is to kick the forward, let alone pass the ball or follow any game plan.
Have a little talk about how the game is played, why it is important to pass the ball or not to play beyond the sidelines and goal lines, and not to pick the ball with his or her hands during play.
Understanding how the game is played and how to win is a way to prepare your kid for the disappointment of losing.
During the course of the game, your kid may already figure out who the better team is and why they are going to lose.
While your kid may be upset he or she knows the reason why they lost the game and he or she will learn from her mistakes and train harder to improve in the next game.
If you are unsure of the basic rules of soccer, check out my post “Basic Soccer Rules For Kids – Crash Course For Parents”.
I covered quite a few rules including handball, throw-ins, and free kicks.
4. Be a role model
This could be a tough one for some parents like me because I tend to forget my kids are looking up to me and they copy whatever I do or say.
If you don’t take losing a soccer game lightly then your kid will think losing is bad and winning is the only option.
He or she can hear your voice when you shout from the sidelines.
Are you complaining about the referee’s decision or cheering every kid to do their best?
If you want to show your kid that losing is not everything then it is time you lead the way.
Try these gestures:
- Cheer both teams
- Support the referee’s decisions
- Congratulate the winning team
- Encourage the losing team by saying something positive about their game
- Always remain positive even when your kid’s team lost the game.
- Show your kid you have fun regardless of win or lose
When your kid sees your actions and hears what you say he will likely change his behavior about losing.
5. Teach sportsmanship
Sportsmanship is the ability to play with fairness and generous behavior or treatment of your teammates, coach, and opponents inside and outside of the playing field.
As a parent, it is important to teach your kid the value of sportsmanship which will also be important it in his or her adult life.
The following tips are taken from my post “9 Tips About Teaching Sportsmanship To Kids”:
- Fun – Focus on the fun of playing soccer instead of playing under the pressure from parents, coaches, or teammates.
When the fun factor is removed it will lead to frustration and a lack of motivation for the kid to play.
- Fair Play – Encourage your kid to play fair and respect the rules of the game. It also means accepting the decisions of the referee.
Fair play reduces the risk of injuries in soccer and brings more fun into the game.
- End The Game With A Handshake – Shaking the hands of your teammates, opponents, and referees signifies that a player is humbled and grateful for the opportunity to play.
This will earn you and your kid kudos among your peers, your kid’s teammates, and opponents alike.
Sportsmanship puts a value on the character of a player than the result of the game.
When your kid cares more about the fun and being empathetic, he or she will take the loss like a true sportsman or woman.
6. One-on-one soccer training
One main cause of frustration to your kid is the lack of skills he or she needed in order to play competitively, score goals, and win games.
Basic soccer skills like dribbling, passing, and kicking are important individual player’s skills.
Training with a team has its limitations because there are simply too many kids to manage during and inadequate training gear.
The chances of your kid being given attention are very limited and he or she has to wait for his or her turn to perform the drills.
That is why you need to help your kid to level up his or her skills as quickly as possible and the best option is for you to coach him or her, through one-on-one training.
In my post on “5 Reasons One-on-one Soccer Training Is Effective”, I highlighted the advantages of one-on-one training including:
- Your Kid Gets More Attention – you focus on your kid’s training. This will improve your kid’s training as you pay more attention to how he or she performs the drills.
- More Time With Ball – Your kid will have more time to play with the ball thus speeding up the learning process.
- Focus On Weak Skills – You have the opportunity to identify the areas your kid needs improvement on and work on them.
You also have the option of hiring a one-on-one coach if you feel that is the path you need to invest in.
The end result is that your kid will play more effectively with confidence and help contribute to the success of the team and earn him or her respect.
7. Be a better player
In my previous post “12 Tips On How To Be A Good Soccer Player”, I outline 12 tips a soccer player can follow in order to be a successful player.
The following are 3 of the tips I discussed:
- Commitment – A player needs to be committed to his or her training and that includes setting time for training, being consistent, executing proper training techniques – do not cheat in training.
This also applies to parents who will continue to encourage and support the kid’s training otherwise the kid will give up soon.
- Learn basics first and foremost – A common mistake is to skip the basic drills and try to learn some advanced stuff instead. What will become evident is your kid can’t even do basic actions like passing the ball properly.
Make sure your kid learns basic kicking, passing, and receiving techniques if he or she is a goalie then do the basic goalkeeper drills.
All these can make a huge difference to your kid’s performance on the field.
- Ensure proper diet and nutrition – when eating the right food your kid does not get tired too soon but will be full of energy and physically strong, don’t get injured easily, and recovered faster after the game.
Proper dieting helps in reducing obesity and discourages eating junk foods and drinks.
Training your kid to change his mindset about losing and improving his winning chances requires some commitment from parents.
If you consistently follow the above tips you will both be looking forward to every soccer match because it is going to be a fun time.
Here is a list of drills you can start one-on-one training with your kid:
- How To Coach Soccer To 5-Year-Olds
- 5 Basic Kids Soccer Drills – Excel In Ball Control
- 5 Fun Soccer Warm Up Drills (and Warm Down)
- Soccer Goalie Drills – Developing Your Kids Catching Skills
- 10 Incredibly Simple Soccer Drills For Toddlers
- 12 Tips On How To Be A Good Soccer Player
Did you face a similar situation with your kid?
Drop a comment below and let me know how you dealt with it.