The importance of letting your children lose
Teach your child the benefits of losing gracefully...
You’re playing a board-game with your 5-year-old daughter and you let her win. Or you’re running a race with your 4-year-old son and of course, he wins – even though obviously you are faster!
Letting your kid win seems to make sense on the surface. After all, you can cope with losing a game of snakes and ladders much better than your child can.
Allowing your child to win protects him from feeling bad and sad about himself. As a parent, you love seeing the joy on your little one’s face when he wins something.
But do you want to know the truth? Learning how to lose gracefully is actually good for children in the long run; it helps them become empathetic and well-rounded adults.
Here are 6 reasons why you should let your kids lose.
1. To develop their coping skills
As adults, we know that we simply cannot win at everything we do. We also know that the world is a highly competitive place.
So, for your child to understand how to cope with losing in the real world — like in a competition in front of his preschool friends — losing in a board game at home with you is a gentle first step.
According to Christine Carter, director of the parenting programme at The Greater Good Center, University of California-Berkeley, “if they don’t lose, they’re being set up to not be able to cope.”
2. To teach them about the joy of simply having fun
Imagine how stressful it would be for your child to go in to a game with the expectation of winning each time. This is why it is important to teach kids that it’s okay not to be first all the time.
Kids who can handle not winning will be able to have fun playing a game, whether they come first, second, or last.
3. To teach empathy
We all want our kids to be able to identify with the emotions of another person.
However, children just won’t be able to empathise with someone if they have never gone through a similar experience before. We are able to feel another’s pain only if we experience some form of it ourselves.
4. To develop self-control
We’ve all seen the preschooler who throws a mighty tantrum because he didn’t win the race. But we know that no one can get his way all the time and that throwing a tantrum is not the way to go about it.
If a child doesn’t learn how to handle losing with grace, then he runs the risk of being labelled a ‘sore-loser’. This is certainly not something we want for our kids.
Of course, we can’t expect a 4-year-old to accept defeat with a smiling face every time it happens. But with practice, he will be able to shrug off losing a game.
5. To build self-confidence
When children learn to accept that losing is a part of life, they strive harder to get it right the next time.
This way of thinking helps build self-confidence and pride in their own skills and abilities. They also learn that doing well is a result of their own effort and is not something handed to them on a silver platter.
6. To let them learn from their mistakes
If something – whether it’s a game or an exam – calls for specific skills and planning, not doing well gives kids the opportunity to think about how they can do better the next time. This is an important life skill that will be useful throughout their lives.
According to Dr. Eileen Kennedy-Moore, co-author of Smart Parenting for Smart Kids, competitiveness is very natural among kids, especially during the preschool years.
So there’s really no need to be overly concerned if your 4-year-old aims to be the best at everything he does, all the time, to the point that he comes across as being highly competitive.
But when he doesn’t do so well, here’s how you can help him understand why it’s okay to lose.
- Praise your child when he handles loss well.
- Talk to your child about why he lost.
- Teach your child to always say ‘congratulations’ to the winner and be happy for his success.
- Provide him with opportunities to lose – such as that Snakes and Ladders game with you.
And if he does win that game of Snakes and Ladders, show him exactly how a person loses gracefully by setting an example of it yourself!
Parents, remember that every time your child loses a game, he is taught a little life lesson.
He learns that sometimes, everyone has to work hard to achieve something they value a lot, whether it means studying extra hard for that perfect score on a test, or practising harder before making it to the swimming team.
Do you think it’s okay to let your kids lose occasionally? Let us know your opinion in the poll below!