General chatter - Little Boys and Anger Management

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06-23-2008, 10:58 AM I'm wondering if any of you that have boys have had this problem. My son is so hard on himself to WIN at everything that when he doesn't win, he completely breaks down in a crying jag. Spelling Bees...he won his classroom spelling bee and went on to the District Wide spelling bee where he came in third place. He didn't know it at the time, but by coming in third, he was able to advance on to the County Fair (I already put up a thread regarding this earlier), but since he didn't WIN the spelling bee and came in third, he started to bawl in front of everyone. Granted, this was a pretty stressful situation, but he was the only kid that broke down in tears...everyone else just sloughed it off and went to sit with their parents.

Then we had Primary Fun and Fitness day where they have relay races. Kyle came in first in an egg-in-spoon race, but then they had the winners race again to decide first/second/third place overall. Well, his egg dropped right before the finish line and again, he bawled. Everyone else was have fun and laughing when they lost, but Kyle just lost it.

Same thing happens with board games and video games. If he doesn't win, he just gets so mad! Is this normal? I never, ever put pressure on him to win anything at all and I just don't know where it comes from. I always tell him, "Just have fun playing the game and don't worry if you win or lose!"

So, the County Fair is coming up and I'm trying to practice for the Spelling Bee with him and he won't even look at the words except for once in a while and if he gets a word wrong, he just gets mad and doesn't even want to see how it's spelled so he can study it and get it right. He just walks away and complains that he's going to lose.

Any suggestions?

06-23-2008, 11:35 AM
Sounds like his self-confidence is really low. A friend of mine swears that enrolling her son in a martial arts class totally changed him and that he has more self-confidence and is not as hard on himself as he was before.

Just throwing that idea out there. I have no children and hence no personal advice to give. I hope others have better advice for you.

06-23-2008, 12:06 PM

And it's not only boys. I think for some reason we girls in my family get more than we're supposed to in-vitro. I want to win everytime. I may be a 5'2" "little girl" but I don't take crap off anyone. My X was a 6'5" "linebacker" and just oh so mellow. He didn't like taking me to the GoKart tracks very much. I was GOOD and DETERMINED to win. He said when I got in the car, my face turned stoned cold and my entire focus was on WINNING the race. If you got somehow shoved off the track for that to happen, then so be it.:devil:

Then one time we brought my youngest. I watched her race and "Little Miss Earnhardt" put this sweet little 8 year old girl into the wall about 5 times and won the race by like 10 laps. Afterwards the kid who was in charge asked me to please not bring her back until she was big enough for the adult tracks. Sorry, I couldn't help it. I was proud of her.:o

We don't cry about losing, but I and both my girls will get POd and focus all our energy on annialation in the next round. I am working on finding better ways for us to focus that energy. I think the same thing is coming out in your son, but he is too young to deal with and it wells up into crying.

It's OK. Maybe try to get him to find a better way to express his anger and frustration then turn it into focus. It very well may make him a success later on. Afterall, this is a competitive world and you do need a strong desire to achieve.

06-23-2008, 02:10 PM
My son was the laid back, didn't care if he won or lost, non-competitive in any way one, my daughter on the other hand was the one that could not stand to lose at anything. My son actually used to cheat to lose at games so she wouldn't cry when they were young. She is still totally OCD and is an overachiever in everything she does but she doesn't take losing quite so hard anymore (she still doesn't like it though!!). I don't think it's self confidence as my daughter had enough confidence for about three kids. It's just different personality quirks--some people are people oriented and some are task oriented.

Marathon Mom
06-23-2008, 04:00 PM
Teach your son that the journey is part of the fun - just as much as the victory.. Some fun scenarios are baking cookies, making an art project, building a snowman or a sand castle, etc...

Hopefully this will show him that doing the activity is just as much fun as the end result!!

06-23-2008, 04:19 PM
I just want to echo others and say that this is not a male/female issue. It happens to both boys and girls.

Resilience is an important trait and once it is developed, empathy can be developed, which is also an important quality for youngsters to develop.

So, the County Fair is coming up and I'm trying to practice for the Spelling Bee with him and he won't even look at the words except for once in a while and if he gets a word wrong, he just gets mad and doesn't even want to see how it's spelled so he can study it and get it right. He just walks away and complains that he's going to lose.

Any suggestions?

My suggestion would be to be honest with him. Tell him that it hurts you to see him sad and disappointed and so you wonder if the disappointment he feels when he loses (which is inevitable, no one ALWAYS wins) is worth competing.

If he keeps saying that he shouldn't even try because he's just going to lose, then why do you keep trying to practice with him? If it isn't important to him, let it go, informing him of what will happen if he quits (not being able to compete at the fair and check in with him to see how that would make him feel etc. so he can reason it out with you and weigh his options).

If he regrets it and is upset that he dropped out, it will be a great learning opportunity on how his choices impact him personally. If it doesn't bother him and he's less stressed, that is a great thing too! Its a win-win either way.

I wouldn't let my child compete if they consistently showed that they couldn't handle defeat and I'd tell them why.

My next suggestion would be to take him to counseling.

This stood out for me, from your other thread:
They have awards assemblies every month and the only award he has gotten this year was for 100's on his spelling tests, but I had to call the school and ask them to give him an award for something because he's become so negative watching his friends get awards for things that are way beneath his academic level that he comes home saying, "Why should I try? I never get any awards." If I ask him to read with me, he doesn't want to and he used to love reading and learning. Now he's become totally bitter about learning and school.

This really stood out for me from your other thread and I just wanted to say that intrinsic motivation is so important! Enjoying the process is what really matters, not how other people recognize the efforts. That is a hard lesson to learn in our society.

From a developmental perspective, the whole "reward" thing is really controversial. All the training I have had in Child Development states that giving "rewards" for doing well sets children up to lack intrinsic motivation and puts them in a place where they potentially will feel worthless when NOT receiving constant ego stroking or external awards. The schools I have worked in don't give competitive performance-based accolades for these reasons. Each child is supported and celebrated for the progress they make on their own path.

I know what it feels like to have an exceptional child who feels like others get the accolades for doing less than they are capable of doing. It can SUCK! :hug:

My daughter is an actress who, from the age of 5, has had to watch substandard performers handed roles they were not capable of performing. It's not just self-serving reasons or ego that makes her feel unhappy about this, because the result is that the entire production has suffered because of it.

At the end of the day, such experiences build character. Every parent wishes that their child could get an award at every ceremony! It's just not practical or healthy for that to happen though. :(

06-23-2008, 04:48 PM
I mentioned music lessons in the other thread, and I'll say it again. Music lessons are something that they can do and it's not a competition, but gives them a talent and something to focus on. Guitar lessons were a huge turning point for my son. It can be anything (my daughter takes art lessons), but something where there isn't a competition and there's no winner - - it's just a process and learning.

06-23-2008, 06:22 PM
My little guy exactly like yours. He's very emotional.

I've been told by his phychologist (he has ADHD) that he has low self esteem and depression issues.

We praise him for every little thing, and are learning to tell him that his actions are naughty, not him (when he gets in trouble).

we also try to incorporate him in more family choices.

His school deals with children like him - and they have rewards like "had a good day" reward or "classroom helper".

My daughter is going through pre-puberty so there are a lot of emotional changes for her. Since her father and I are not together, she has a bit of a harder time. Which was why she was chosen for the Dreams Take FLight charity (going to Disneyland without parents will be a huge focal point for her).

06-23-2008, 06:27 PM
I've been told by his phychologist (he has ADHD) that he has low self esteem and depression issues.
Your psychologist knows what's up! Very bright children, those with ADHD or other issues (and, lots of ADHD'ed kids are really SMART!) are very often depressed and have low self esteem. This can cause them to act out (or inward) in a number of ways. Your son is lucky that you take him to a psychologist! I wish more people were open to counseling and therapy.