Have you ever let your kid win at a game, just because you were afraid of hurting their feelings? As parents, we’re probably all guilty at some point of sheltering our children from the pain of losing by letting them beat us at something, but by doing so we’re holding them back.
Stop letting your kid win all the time. Here’s how you can prepare them to face competition once they enter the real world.
Play At Their Level
Kids can tell if you’re throwing the game. If they see you’re losing on purpose, they might see that as you having given up on them, and that sense of failure can creep up on them later in life. When competing with your child, don’t go all out as if you were playing against an adult, but rather compete at the same level that they’re on.
Let Them Lose
Nobody likes to lose, even adults. Losing to your child intentionally, however, is probably doing them more harm than good. Our job is to prepare them for the real world, where they need to be prepared to face failure and deal with it. A study done at Amhurst College shows that children who experience “illusory” success are less able to form and process their own judgements about their performance. Likewise, they are more likely to ignore feedback.
Talk About It
Part of life is reflecting on what you did, and trying better next time. It’s natural to feel frustrated or angry if you fail at something. When your child loses, let them express their emotions in a private place, and ensure them that it’s OK to feel the way they do. Remind them that there is always next time.
Encourage Them To Reflect On Their Performance
Sometimes, not all the answers in life come easy. It takes trial and error to figure out how to get better, and we often learn more from the journey than from the end result or goal. If your child fails at something, instead of telling them what they need to do, ask them what they think they could do to improve. If the solutions come from them, they are more meaningful.
Focus On Effort
Remind your kid that no matter what the outcome will be, they should always give their best effort. All kind of situations in life will require resilience and perseverance to get through, and winning will sometimes be a gray area. Learning to try their best will teach your child to recover easily from disappointment.
If They Win, Teach Them To Be a Gracious Winner
Allowing your kid to gloat and make others feel bad when they win is equally detrimental. Winning feels great, but you should make sure your child is conscious of how the loser feels. Good sportsmanship goes a long way. Teach them to respect their competitor’s feelings, and to be modest and humble about their success. These social skills will be important throughout other areas of their life.
Celebrate Legitimate Victories
When kids win, or if they’ve improved on something after reflecting and working hard to get there, let them know what a great job they’ve done. When you celebrate wins where they’ve really accomplished something, they’ll distinguish between what it took to go from losing to winning, and understand that winning shouldn’t always come easy.
As painful as it can be for them, you need to let your kid lose once in a while. By letting them fail, you’re setting them up for success later on.
|||^||Better Humans: The Soccer Mom Problem: How Parents Fail|
|||^||Science Daily: Let your kids lose: Success inhibits preschoolers’ ability to establish selective trust|