Updated: Feb 3
Winning and losing are great opportunities for teaching children appropriate actions and reactions, and to understand the ups and downs of life. It gives kids a chance to slow down and take time to figure out how to move forward, what to do to improve next time.
Many aspects of a child’s life are connected to competitions. Starting from kindergarten and all throughout school, some children do some things better than others, there will always be children who do very well in the spelling bee or always win when it comes to sports. It, therefore, becomes important for teachers and parents to teach children that winning and succeeding is a part of life, but also that to lose is equally important. By showing kids that losing is not the end of the world, children learn that life is full of second chances.
Both winning and losing teaches a child many important lessons that are important for growth and development. The crucial part of it is supporting your child through good and bad times. The approach to winning doesn't always need to be aggressive. It’s crucial to understand that even if children are not winning, they can still enjoy what they’re doing and learn from the experience.
Below are some reasons why learning to lose is just as important as learning to win.
What Can Children Learn from Winning?
Winning a game/race or being the best in class gives a child a good feeling about themselves and makes them feel proud. It shows them that they’re good at something, which builds their self-confidence.
A confident child is likely to develop a ‘can-do-attitude’, and this can-do or positive attitude will help them to succeed as adults in the future. The experience of winning helps children get motivated and gives them the confidence to take the next complicated steps in order to achieve even bigger goals. Competition is also helpful in inspiring a child to do more and perform better. This is an ability that prepares a child for different situations in their future life.
The feeling of winning prepares kids to think more strategically. In sports matches or in board games, children know that they can only win by being more clever than their opponents. Knowing that the rules need to be followed, children start to think more strategically in order to win the game.
Games Are Not Just About Winning
Kenneth Barish, a professor of Psychology, emphasizes that it is important for parents to remember that there is a lot more to winning a competition. Participating in competitions provides a socializing experience for children. Competing in sports events at school or at the playground can help children learn about the importance of cooperation, teamwork, commitment to a task and respect for the opponent.
Every game is an opportunity for children to learn the rules of the game. Children might consider these rules to be arbitrary but they need to learn that rules serve particular purposes. Competitions are the right place for children to understand and follow the rules of the game.
What Can Children Learn from Losing?
The feeling of losing and accepting defeat and then moving on are particular skills that children need to develop in order to deal with negative experiences in life. It might not seem fair to the child that one kid can do something better than they can, but adults can teach children that everyone has different talents and that it is impossible to be good at everything. Research in this domain has shown that losing games is quite helpful for children because it teaches them to show empathy and cope with the negative experience of losing.
Christine Carter, the author of several books on parenting, believes that children need to practice losing in order to handle the situation in front of their peers. Children who do not experience loss during their early years find it difficult to deal with situations that do not go their way in their lives later. Losing a game is the only way for kids to learn from their mistakes and think about strategies to improve. When children work on their skills and win the next match, they automatically excel at the sport or game. Learning new things increases children’s confidence levels as well as their self-belief, allowing them to be proud of their abilities.
When children lose a game, they also learn to identify themselves with others who have lost by being in a similar situation as them. Melody Brook, a therapist in Texas, says that the experience of coping with loss helps a child to show empathy towards other children in the same position. A child who has never lost a game may never realize that everyone struggles in life. The point is, children need to accept their losses and cultivate the ability to respond to failure in a positive way.
Losing shows children that they need to work harder in order to succeed because good things do not come easily. The message is that children can’t have everything they want, but if they put in the effort and pay attention to the details, they will have more positives than negatives. These situations also teach children to lose with grace in front of others and to be seen as a fair loser.