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Kids Jeopardy Contestant Upset Over Loss

Jeopardy! Contestant Provides Parents an Opportunity to Teach About Losing

It's tough losing a contest, but child psychologists are saying Thomas Hurley III's reaction after his answer was disqualified from Kids Jeopardy! because of a misspelling should be used as a lesson on how to lose gracefully. The 12-year-old answered a Final Jeopardy question correctly but he misspelled the answer — Emancipation Proclamation — so he was eliminated as a contestant and earned the runner-up position. Hurley and his mother seem to be having a difficult time accepting the decision, however. He told the Danbury, CT, New-Times that he felt "cheated," while his mom posted negative comments about the game show on Facebook. 

Parenting experts say Hurley and his mother should focus on how much he achieved — as one of the few contestants in the country to get that far. Accepting the loss is more important than winning, because it teaches children how to accept negatives in life with class, they say. Moreover, Jeopardy! says even if Hurley had spelled the word correctly, he would not have placed first because contestant Skyler Hornback wagered more money.

"When people focus on the negatives, they are more likely to make mistakes during the next performance. And the pessimistic emotions use up brainpower that could be devoted to being better prepared or improving," Sian Beilock, professor of psychology at the University of Chicago and author of the book Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal About Getting It Right When You Have To, told Today. "When we have the opportunity to succeed and there is a lot riding on our performance, it is disappointing [when we lose]. The important point is to think about what we are going to do differently the next time around." 


How would you react if Hurley was your child?

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