We live in a society that is so focused on rewarding every little movement of our kids that our children are growing up with a warped sense of entitlement. I think there is a difference between rewarding genuine effort versus giving our kids a pat on the back for just participating. Our kids expect to win, expect to receive awards and expect accolades in all aspects of their life.
I think it is a healthy thing for kids to experience not being the best at something and to accept losing graciously, because in real life, you don’t win at everything you do and you need to learn how to deal with it.
I once witnessed a child playing on the losing team who refused to shake hands with his opponents at the end of the game and went into a full meltdown over the fact his team hadn’t won. My initial impression was that this kid was an absolute spoilt brat, but then I thought, if he has never had to experience loss before why would he be gracious? Maybe he thought no-one ever loses and that his team was being penalised for something for which he wasn’t responsible. Regardless of his mindset, I made a pact with myself to make sure my kids know that in every competition there will be winners and losers, but if you have tried your hardest then you have no need to feel ashamed if you don’t win. Furthermore, I always insist my kids shake hands with the opposition at the end of the game to thank them for the competition, because without them there wouldn’t have been a game.
Teams that try hard and lose against a stronger opponent improve their skills. A team that wins every week without effort doesn’t find it challenging and therefore doesn’t improve as quickly as those who struggle. Maybe the true winners aren’t always the team with the highest score.
I would rather we acknowledge a kid who has played at their best but lost, versus a child who has not put in much effort but has been part of a winning team.
It is human nature to want to win and I agree that people should try their hardest in a competition to do so, however if they don’t win, it doesn’t mean they have failed. The next time your kid loses a game, be grateful that they are building tenacity and humility, which are, in my opinion, more important than the accolades that come from just winning.
(Picture courtesy of digitalart, freedigitalphotos.net)