Why I’m not “letting” my child “win” all the games just coz he’s young

….And why you probably shouldn’t either

You’ve probably been conditioned to give the advantage to the underdog – that means you let the littlest one have the last candy, let your child win the games or play poorly to make him feel he won fair and square, or variations of these examples – you get my drift. And so, we’ve all witnessed sore losers – that child who throws a tantrum just because he wasn’t given his way, or because her team lost at soft ball – that child who sulks away or cries, simply because a win wasn’t handed to them – aha!

This is more associated with first children, where parents have unwittingly created an atmosphere of abetted winning – where all the others pool in to boost the child’s self esteem by “letting” him win. But, here’s a different way of parenting to consider – to teach them that losing at a game is a perfectly acceptable outcome. If two sides play, one must lose in order for one to win. That this just means that they’re going to have to try harder the next time – probably put in more effort, spend more time honing their skills, whatever.

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Losing gracefully is a life skill that needs to be taught by us to our kids. And this is why I don’t “lose” to my 4-year-old just so he can feel good in the moment. I want him to earn his little victories, so they mean something. I run as hard as I can when we race. He was always fast but it’s only now he focuses on finishing the race and hence beating me, and delighting in it. Similarly, when the kids play cricket and he gets out, he isn’t bugged by some other child taunting him that he “got out”. Instead, he says “my turn” and heads out to bowl at his opponent.

Some might say this is cruel, that no adult is a real sore loser and eventually everyone knows that they have to be gracious losers. Maybe. But according to psychologists, it is up to parents to show their kids to lose gracefully – something they emulate rather than learn. And in this position of power, it means we teach them to enjoy the game and not the outcome. After all, there can always be a rematch, eh?

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