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Learning To Lose

What if your child does not handle winning and losing well?

Child psychologist and mother of three, Rona Novick, spoke with CBS This Morning's Thalia Assuras about helping your child cope with winning and losing.

How do you prepare your child for the possibility of losing? Novick says the key word is "prepare".

Students at the Hillside School in New Jersey were trying out for a school musical. Not everyone was a winner. Losers put on the best face they could under the circumstances, "I mean, it's not the end of the world or anything. I mean, there are plenty other roles I could get," said 5th grader Madeline Gentile.

Some children were able to understand why they didn't make the grade this time, "I wasn't practicing as much as I should have been practicing and that the other people did probably practice really a lot," said Monique Senior.

Corey Whelihan did win one of the lead roles. Nonetheless, he prepared himself for the possibility of falling short, "I try not to get too attached to a role until I get it, I'll try not to get myself too worked up," he said.

Novick says too often as parents we're encouraging, moving children forward, and not necessarily helping them to understand that only one person wins the lottery or gets the prize and that there is the real possibility that they will not be the one.

The message is, you can be as good as you can be. And each time you try, you learn, and you get better.

What happens at that moment when your child loses out to someone else? Novick says one mistake parents make is to make it seem that it doesn't matter. That's a failure to say to a child, I know how you feel, "It feels miserable," she says.

The next step is to orient them to the future. It's important to tell kids there will be other plays, there will be other goals, and there will be other chances.

There are some children who can get depressed or violent when they lose. To deal with that you need to start with prevention and preparing. You have to know your child. If you have an intense child who takes losing very, very seriously, maybe that child doesn't belong in competitive sports.

If you have a child who is shy and retiring and doesn't like performing in front of the public, you may not have them on the beauty pageant circuit.

Find places for them to compete, places that use their personal strengths rather than emphasize their weaknesses.

Novick also suggests that parents look for role models. Look for heroes that are not only the winners. Novick cites an example, "We had a wonderful summer with two baseball players in the limelight both going for the record," Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. Sosa didn't look like a loser and is the perfect example for children.

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