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Son Hates Failure, Loves Competition

Gifted and Talented Expert Advice from Noreen H. Joslyn, LISW, ACSW

Q: My eight-year-old son is a perfectionist and extremely competitive. Although he usually tries his best and succeeds, when he doesn't, he can't take responsibility for his failure, and alienates everyone around him. What can his father and I do to help him handle failure?

A: What your son needs is more experience in competing and losing! It's sometimes hard for gifted kids to learn that they can't always win, and it's better if this lesson is learned early. Find some sports or other activities -- board games, chess -- where he can learn to compete against other able kids, and don't let him give up too soon. He might do well, he might not, but always point out the positives and don't let him blame others if he doesn't come in first. Another helpful situation is to good-naturedly point out your own mistakes when they occur. When you handle them well, he has a good role model to follow.

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Noreen Joslyn is a licensed independent social worker in the state of Ohio and is a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers. She has a master's degree in Social Work, specializing in family and children, from the University of Pittsburgh. She is a psychiatric social worker in private practice with Ken DeLuca, Ph.D. & Associates, where she counsels parents and children.


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