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.
Originally Posted by techwife
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.
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:
Originally Posted by techwife
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!
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.