Should everyone always win and get a trophy? What are the effects of children winning just for showing up?
We’ve all done it. Letting your child win 10 straight games of “Uno” so he feels like a winner. Or slowing down during a race so your little girl can cross the finish line first. As parents we want to help our children build their self-esteem and protect them while we can from the competitive world where they won’t always be #1.
There are ways to modify activities to accommodate a younger-aged child’s developmental needs. However, as they grow older, children winning every time presents a false sense of reality. In the “real world” not every kid can be the best at everything, making it more important to teach school aged children how to lose.
The good news is, losing doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. Learning to cope with losing builds perseverance, problem solving skills and self-esteem!
When children don’t know how to lose –
Unearned rewards sets the children up to expect a win just for showing up. This is how entitled adults are groomed. You know the type. People who feel they deserve all that life has to offer, just for being alive. There’s no motivation to do their best, nor do they truly appreciate what is given to them because a win has always been guaranteed.
There’s also a danger of suffering from low self-esteem. School aged children who were always allowed to win are devastated over small losses and begin asking themselves, “When did I become a loser?” “Why aren’t I good enough?”. They become afraid to try.
It start here –
Mistakes and losses are inevitable but they can be used to your child’s advantage. When children make mistakes, instead of spinning those losses into artificial wins, help them understand that by identifying the lessons in the failure, losing can be a stepping stone to another opportunity to win!
Coping skills –
It’s easier for kids to practice losing at home than on the playground at school. If you always let your child win at checkers, he will come to expect this every time he plays. But when you challenge your child, you teach him to cope with the stress and encourage him to problem solve.
Kids who learn how to cope with failure understand the feeling of defeat. We all have to give an honest effort to succeed, and sometimes we come up short. This helps children learn how to be sensitive to the struggles their peers may be facing.
When parents teach children that winning isn’t everything, children learn to accept defeat as part of the learning process, encouraging them to take pride in their ability to learn and make improvements.
Bonus tip: Remember that your child is their own person –
When your child takes the win, it’s natural to feel a sense of accomplishment. On the flip side, many parents take their child’s losses as a sign of parenting failure. Nothing can be further from the truth. Whether Jr. wins the spelling bee or not is not a reflection of your parenting abilities; so relax, enjoy your child’s growth, and let your kid be a kid in confidence!