Teach Your Kid How to Lose.

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We need to stop.

Far too many of us spend way too much time teaching our kids to be “winners”? (for the record… I’m a big fan of the “air quotes”).

Everyone likes a winner, but I’m not everyone. I like losers.

As parents, we spend hours teaching our kids how to win. I’m starting to think we have it backwards.

I think we need to teach them how to lose.Life Was So Simple... And Then I Lost.

Winners are put on a pedestal, but I think losers are the ones who deserve our admiration.

This wasn’t the case when I was kid (back in the early 1800’s). I didn’t really have any interest in losing.

In fact, my first 4 years of youth baseball resulted in 4 undefeated championship seasons (if my memory hasn’t failed me… again).

Yes, that’s right. 4 seasons. 4 championships.

At that point in my life I was pretty sure I had it figured out. While I felt badly (a little) for the other teams we were crushing… actually, never mind… I didn’t feel badly at all.

What I felt was “I’m a Baseball God and You Losers are My Subjects and Should Bow Before Me.”

Some might take this as cockiness… and they would be correct.

As you can see, I had put little thought into the fact that I had teammates.

In my mind it was me and all me.

Life was good.

Show up. Go to practice. Win every game. Collect trophy. See you next year. Thanks for coming everybody and don’t forget to tip your waitress!

I’m not going to lie. It was sweet.

I was living the dream. At least as much of a dream that an 11 year old can live.

Things were going along quite nicely until year 5. Then we had a problem.

We didn’t win (notice when we won… all me… when we lost it was all “we”).

I don’t remember the exact details, but I wasn’t prepared to lose. Losing is what the other kids and teams did.

I’ve tried to erase the exact details from my mind, but I’m sure there was crying involved.

And possibly the sad attempt at trying to catch my breath while talking and trying to nonchalantly wipe the tears out of my eyes.

Turns out winning is easy. Losing is hard.

Especially when you’re not prepared for it.

Losing isn’t nice. It sneaks up and punches you right in the throat (maybe that’s what caused the man tears…).

This disastrous year 5 mega loss has haunted me for over 30 years. It has also resulted in my theory that we need to prepare our kids for losing not winning.

Winning is pretty self-explanatory. Not a lot of preparation goes into being a successful winner.

Losing is far more complicated.

And takes practice.

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4 Responses to “Teach Your Kid How to Lose.”

  1. Michelle Howell-Martin
    on Sep 25th, 2009
    @ 2:02 am

    I agree, but not only with teaching kids how to lose, but how to lose gracefully.

  2. Beth
    on Sep 25th, 2009
    @ 3:00 am

    Exactly! I remember watching my youngest child, at the tender age of 4, fall apart when he lost a game of Chutes and Ladders. I decided right then and there that the boy would lose every game until he could lose with grace and dignity. He is a much nicer kid as a result.

  3. Angie
    on Sep 25th, 2009
    @ 7:29 am

    My 6 year old asks me regularly if I will let him win at games. I always so no. Even though I feel a little guilty, I know I am teaching him a valuable lesson. And that lesson is…..your mom is smarter than you.

  4. Jenny
    on Sep 26th, 2009
    @ 8:14 am

    I think this is important not only in sports, but also school. Kids need to know how to deal with things being hard. The kids who are ahead and never have trouble in school balk when they finally get to a point where they have to work hard and struggle through something. I’ve known a lot of friends that never got challenged that much until college, but I’ve also seen it happen time and time again at younger ages. It’s important for kids to learn that things CAN be hard, but that doesn’t mean they can’t do it. They have to practice struggling and prevailing.

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