We have all done it; slowed down to let your preschooler win a race to the car, happen to forget where the matching card was in a memory game, miss a shot in a game of HORSE with your son. We do these things because we want our kids to feel good, boost their self-confidence, to keep them from feeling sad. But by losing intentionally, we just may be hurting our kids instead of helping them.
Our children are being raised in a very different world. When we were growing up there was one winner, and they got the trophy, the prize, the shiny medal. Now- a- days every child goes home with a ribbon because we don’t want anyone to feel bad. While a nice gesture, it just may be promoting a generation of entitled kids who don’t know how to deal with losing.
But, the fact is we don’t always win in life. Sometimes the job you applied for goes to someone else, you may get passed over for a promotion or you lose the election for PTA president. But hopefully when those things happen, you are able to accept the loss with dignity and grace. This is exactly how we want our children to act as well. Whether they are playing baseball or a game of monopoly, the only way they will learn how to be a good loser is if they have a chance to lose some times. That is why it is so important that you allow your children to feel the disappointment and show them how to act at home, in a safe environment, so that when it happens at the ballpark or in school they will know how to act.
By losing, your child may become motivated to try harder next time. It can encourage them to practice and improve their skills so that next time they have a better chance at winning the game on their own, getting a better grade on that math test and eventually getting that promotion at work. Losing can also teach your child empathy. Every time they lose, they have a chance to understand what it feels like and how everyone has struggles in life. It is a chance to show them that you value effort more than victories and that it is how we deal with those struggles that life gives us that really matters. Will we be beaten down and give up? Or do we congratulate others who have succeeded and use that experience to work hard so we too can experience our own successes?
So the next time your child says to you, “I’ll race you to the car,” RACE them, and if you win so be it! High five your child and tell them they ran a good race. Sure your child may be sad for a while, but you can use the moment to teach them about losing and winning with grace; so that when a bigger loss comes, they’ll have the skills to handle it!
Each month we will discuss a life skill with all of our students. This month the word is Sportsmanship. This word will be defined in the following ways for our students.
Young students: Sportsmanship means: “No matter if I win or lose, I use kind words and play by the rules!”
Older students: Sportsmanship means: Respecting the rules and the spirit of competition. (the ‘golden rule’ of competition)
Each age group has a worksheet that parents can use to continue the discussion at home with their children, and one for adults to allow them to think more deeply about the skill and how it applies to them. Would you like to receive the worksheet? Stop by our studio at 133 Gibralter Avenue in Annapolis, MD and tell us the age of your child. We will give you a worksheet and invite you to watch Mr. Joe discuss the word with the students in class. You can also follow our discussions here on this website.
If you would like to become a member of Balanced Life Skills, come TRY CLASSES FOR FREE. We are not your typical martial arts school, in fact we are an education center, working with our students on physical skills along with empowering families with compassion, awareness and respect – creating a culture of peace. We believe in every child and build their self – confidence. Balanced Life Skills takes part in community service and encourages each student to do the same.
Come in and talk to the parents that are here and watch the class for the age group you are interested in. Learn about the Balanced Life Skills Way.
As I discussed sportsmanship with our classes one thing came up that I found very interesting. Sportsmanship is very much like empathy. When we look at what we do through the eyes of others, when we put ourselves in their shoes we know immediately if what we are doing demonstrates sportsmanship.
I know that when I think about who I like to compete with it is those that don’t complain if they lose or gloat when they win. They don’t yell at me if I make a mistake, and they don’t make fun of me. They won’t push me and always try to make things fair. Now if they are the things that make me feel good about playing with someone, then I want to be sure to do the same for them. (that is empathy)
This is a great time to teach our children about empathy using sports or games. They can see and feel it and that experience will have the greatest impact on them.
Each month we define and discuss a word of character development with all of our students. This month the word is Sportsmanship. It will be defined this way.
Young students: Sportsmanship means “I am fair and kind whether I win or lose.”
Older students: Sportsmanship means: Respecting the rules and the spirit of competition.
If you would like to see how we will deal with this subject with our students please follow our discussions here during the month of May.