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Competitive Anger

Hello, I have a 10 year old boy that is very competitive...he has been since he was very young. He has an older brother (5 years older) who is a very good athlete, however my 10 year old is also a very good athlete. The competition comes with all games...not just athletics. It could be darts, monopoly, kickball at school, team sports, anything in gym class, etc. If he doesn't win, he gets very angry. He absolutely hates to lose. He will stomp away, sometimes scream, pout, etc. We have had multiple conversations about being a good sport and winning and losing and he understands it all. He says that when he gets that angry its like something inside him is controlling his anger. He doesn't know how to stop it.  On the flip side, he is very mild mannered...a good student, a good friend, gentle, loving with animals, etc. He has no aggressive tendencies toward anything until he gets mad that he didn't win. I am seeking advice as I feel like I have reached my limit to what I can do as a mom. I'm not sure how to help him at this point. What works best here? How can I help him control his anger and not get so mad when things don't go his way. This will impede his ability to play with friends as his friends will not want to play with him if he is going to throw a fit. It has already affected how we play with him at home, doing our best to avoid an outburst of anger by not playing to the best of our ability to win and beat him. Any help offered would be appreciated.
5 Responses
13167 tn?1327194124
I've known a couple kids like that,  and they're now young adults and they no longer do that.  I don't know if that's helpful to you at this point.

It was miserable to be around them in a competitive environment - you don't realize how many things children do that are competitive until you are in the presence of a sore loser.  And in fact,  sore winners too - they were both very ungracious winners.  

I remember one boy,  about 10,  whose mother is a good friend of mine,  was upstairs with a group of boys playing a nintendo game.  This boy suddenly started shouting STOP IT!!!  STOP THAT!!!!   IT's NOT FAAAAIIIIIIIRRRRRR!!!  So I went up there thinking  they were all ganging up or doing mean things,  nope.  He just wasn't winning.  Fair and square,  he wasn't winning.  Even trying to create things they could do that were NOT competitive - everyone build a huge cardboard block tower and knock it over with bean bag toss - he'd turn into a competition.  It was so tiresome to be around him,  your last words about trying not to trigger his poor sportsmanship really ring true to me.  But again,  even in winning,  he was unpleasant.  

The way his mother handled it was she told him she understood he HAD to win to be happy.  That he was frankly miserable if he didn't win,  but it's okay when you're miserable to just sit there quietly.  It's okay to be a little sullen until you feel better.  No one faults a silent kid.  It's not okay to throw a tantrum.  No one will play with you if you do that,  it's unappealing.

So he learned eventually to just be sullen.    Now,  as a young adult,  he's pleasant to be around.  

Best wishes.  You know it must be awful for him to be feeling like that.  
Avatar universal
Thanks for the response RockRose. I appreciate the feedback. I certainly don't want to enable it and my hope is that he will implement some self calming mechanisms to fight off the anger when he feels it coming on as opposed to going full out the other way. We are not an aggressive family. Again, thanks for your response.
13167 tn?1327194124
I hope it works,  4seasons.

The two families I was referring to are very non-competitive,  too.  Very laid back parents.

I wonder if there's something to that - maybe parents who are very competitive know strategies to teach their children how to use that competitive energy very positively?  I don't know,  it's just interesting you say you're family isn't aggressive,  just as these other two also are not.

Anyway,  I hope it works out for you.
Avatar universal
We have a 7 year old that fits what you are describing in your 10yr old. I noticed this anger in him as a toddler.  His aggressive behavior pops out every day, and with every year I think it will get better. When school started for him my fear was I would get phone calls about his behavior. He surprised me though, it wasn't as bad. Until now. The school however is working with us. His teacher charts his behavior on a daily basis. They have a "quiet room" to cool off and he gets "breaks" (time outs). We are hoping to start working with a school psychologist to help him in whatever way we can. Its important though to keep a journal or log his behavior so the doctors have some history to better help you. We are not aggressive people either. I've always said he needs to go to anger management classes. : ) You can email if you need to share your frustration. I know.
Avatar universal
I noticed this is a really old post. But I could easily have written this post. My son is 10 years old and we have the same exact problem. Super competitive, terrible sport. I have studied this behavior for years. We have tried everything! Great athlete, but it is so painful to watch him not excel. It is like this wave of adrenaline hits him and suddenly he is the Hulk raging. Over the years the calming time is shorter and within thirty minutes he is full of regret and totally understands the behavior was inappropriate, he constantly says, "I just can't control it." Otherwise he has the sweetest disposition with a high empathy for others and situations. I must admit my husband are both super laid back as well and it is particularly hard for us to watch this behavior at the ballpark with a whole audience! I have threatened to pull him from all sports until he is mature enough to handle competition appropriately, my husband argues he has to play to learn. Competition is everywhere with this type of kid... it is impossible to avoid it. I was wondering if your child has outgrown this any?
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