How To Teach Our Kids To Lose (And Why Losing Is Important)

No one likes to lose, but it is an inevitable part of life. Teaching our kids that it’s okay to lose, come second, and not expect to be the same as their peers is a tremendous learning experience for them and not one that is learnt overnight.

Even in adulthood, we can feel hurt, angry, or upset when things don’t go our way or if we lose out on an opportunity, promotion, or are one number away from the jackpot. Losing is difficult, so how do we teach our kids to lose, and why is it important to accept that we will not always win?

Why Is Learning To Lose So Important?

When we learn that losing is okay, we begin to understand the art of winning and losing.

  • 1: We learn that losing is inevitable. We will lose at some stage because we cannot win at everything. Winning streaks unavoidably end.
  • 2: Losing does not define us. If we lose a game or come second in an art competition, our standing does not become a part of us.
  • 3: It is not about the winning or the losing but rather how we come back from it and how we refocus and emerge stronger.

How To Teach Our Kids to Lose

Start Young

All kids develop at different stages. As the parent, you will know whether your child is ready to understand the concept of losing and actively engage with you when you positively teach about the value of not consistently winning. So remember, while your eldest son may have been ready to lose when he was two, your younger son may not be quite there yet.

Avoid "Letting" Them Win

For toddlers and preschoolers, we often simplify games to encourage their chance of winning. We may even give them a winning hand because we all know our little ones have a firm grasp that losing is terrible and winning is good; and when they lose, well, we all know what happens when a three-year-old loses! Try to avoid "letting" them win and help them through their feelings of disappointment, frustration, and upset when they lose.

Encourage Participation

Start with a gentle understanding of good sportsmanship with younger kids by encouraging participation in games and praising their efforts. We can help them develop a practice makes perfect attitude. By putting in the time and effort, our children will learn new skills. But allow them to learn that they are not looking to be perfect, but rather join in with the best of their ability.

Geraldine Walsh

Mum of two Geraldine Walsh happily works from home as a freelance writer chatting about parenting, wellness and mental health.

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