For children, Taekwondo rank testing and competition is usually a positive and rewarding experience, but sometimes the final results may be frustrating, disappointing, and difficult to deal with. To help them better cope with losing, as instructors and parents we must give our children the skills to help them understand and deal with loss. These skills are developmental in nature, changing with maturation and experience. In young children, these skills are not well developed. To children under the age of 8, the purpose of Taekwondo should be to have fun, learn basic skills, and develop a sense of fair play and sportsmanship. However, as children become older, the outcome of a testing or competition becomes increasingly important. Unlike team sports where blame for losing is shared among team members, in Taekwondo, a competitor must face loss alone with his or her ego exposed. There is no one to share the responsibility for the loss, except perhaps to blame officials.
Parents may do things to help ease the pain felt by a child who loses a match or fails a rank testing. As a part of early childhood training, parents should teach the concepts and ideals of sportsmanship to their young children. While instructors and coaches strive to enforce the principles of sportsmanship, the basics of these principles should be established before the child ever steps into the dojang. It is the parents' responsibility to be a role model for the development of a sense of fair play, acceptance of losing, being a good winner, and persevering when things get tough. This is important since the fundamentals of sportsmanship are applicable to most daily actions and interactions. Before a child is allowed to compete, the child must have a clear understanding of the behavioral expectations involved in competition, win or lose. Therefore, the first step toward helping a child deal with losing is to ensure that the child understands the fundamental of sportsmanship and is able to conform to appropriate behavioral expectations.
Immediately following a loss, there are a few things that parents may do to help. First, and most important, avoid yelling at your child or at officials. Yelling never helps the child to feel better and in most cases, only makes things worse. If there was a legitimate problem with officials, follow established protest procedures in a calm, rational manner, otherwise, the child may begin to feel that it is never all right to lose, or that if you do lose, you have to find someone else to blame. It is okay to give your child a hug. Your child may have tears but tears are a legitimate expression of emotion. As long as the child is otherwise exhibiting appropriate behavior, the child should not be made ashamed of crying. Allow the child a little breathing space and quiet time after a loss. It is not necessary to try to analyze the situation immediately.
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