Q&A: Fostering good sportsmanship

Is there a non-gender-stereotyped word for "sportsmanship"? Kathleen, mother of a first-grader, asks:

"Does anyone know how to foster good sportsmanship? I love playing games but I really really really do not like the temper tantrum that comes when a certain boy loses. And I've tried, but I really cannot figure out how to lose at Mankala."

Ha! That last line really made me laugh. And then I looked up Mankala. And then I remembered why I don't like playing games with kids that age.

FWIW, I don't think it's unusual that a certain boy gets very upset at losing. The only thing that's seemed to help my boys (the older when he was that age, and the younger now) was playing so many games that losing and winning all blended together, and they got that no one game was that high stakes.

Since it's hard for you to lose at that one game, maybe rotating in other games would help. Unless, of course, your child wants to play only that one game. Which wouldn't surprise me. Kids can be tough.

You could also rotate to games that have no clear winner (if your child will accept other games). That could reduce the tantrum factor. Of course, then your child isn't going to get the practice of being the winner sometimes and the loser other times. And learning to lose IS a life skill. Just not one that that are good at yet at this age. (Although who am I kidding? I'm not particularly good at it at age 38, either, even though it seems to keep happening again and again.)

So, yeah. I don't reallly know. I think it's just repetition.

Does anyone else have anything more solid on being a good loser? And also being a good winner, which kids this age often have problems with, too?