It is no secret our family is extremely competitive. Competition is fun to us and as parents, we find it has great potential to teach some valuable lessons on how to win and lose.
My husband and I took the kids bowling a few days ago. The first game was a given. As usual, my husband won the first game and I was a close second. There was a huge gap between second and third place.
In other words, our children lost to mom and dad …. badly.
Our daughter took it lightly, laughing and pledging her revenge (which she gave) in the next game. My son, almost as competitive as his parents, did not handle the loss well. He pouted. He groaned and pulled the it’s not fair card. Now, most parents, at this point, would have allowed their child to redeem their loss by giving their child the upper-hand.
He came in fourth the second game too. Dad was dethroned by our daughter and I sailed into third place with a mediocre bowl. As we got into the car to go home, my son looks at us and says, “That was really fun. I know I lost but I think if I can figure out how to keep my wrist straight, I will beat you next time Daddy.”
There is a great lesson in losing.
Losing can challenge you.
Losing can teach you.
Losing can also humble you.
In today’s society, people do not lose well.
When our points are challenged, we become defensive, refusing to see a different point of view.
When we think something should have happened a particular way we become victims instead of seeing it as a chance to grow.
When we are afraid, we breed hate and division and claim it is the only way to get our point across.
Our humanity is lost in our loss.
Society is full of sore losers.
What a sad place when we cannot experience a loss and still remain respectful.
It was OK for my son to be mad that he had lost. It was OK to show emotion but it was not OK for him to make camp in his feelings. The loss challenged him. It also reminded him that he was not always going to be the best, the brightest, the strongest, the fastest or even the winner. But instead of seeing his loss as a complete waste, he saw the challenge and chose to learn and grow from it.
Parents, it is important to teach our children how to navigate life when we lose and when we fall short. It is important for parents to raise children that do not lose their humanity or their humility when they experience upset.
And I am not just speaking about in a game of bowling.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on Sarah West’s website. It has been republished here with permission.