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Hi Loves, welcome back to Mommy On the Move! OK, so today’s topic: Learning…to lose? I know, it sounds weird. But stick with me for a bit. For the past two years, Dre was coaching at the University of Michigan. During his first year, they had quite the record season: a school-record 17 wins in a row, a back to back Big Ten Championship, and topped it all off with a trip to the National Championship game, essentially making them the second-best college basketball team in the country. I mean, how about those stats, right?! So the following season, when basketball season started back up and a few games into the season Michigan lost, and Devon looked at me with tears in his eyes and said “Mom, Michigan lost. I don’t wanna watch them anymore”. Then it hit me…MY KIDS DON’T KNOW HOW TO LOSE!
In a generation of participation awards and everybody makes the team and gets equal playing time, I think our kids have lost the art of losing gracefully. We see quotes all the time about a loss not being a loss as long as we learned something from it, but let it be your baby out there losing and start crying and tell me you won’t move heaven and earth to try and save them from that devastation! Guilty! But when we shelter our children from the disappointment of losing, that keeps them from learning to navigate negative outcomes. And that’s life in a nutshell, right?! Navigating negative outcomes. Winning is great, but kids need to learn that defeat isn’t the end of the world.
Parenting is sometimes working backwards (at least it is in this house), and unfortunately for Lil Dre he’s my guinea pig kid (sorry Dre), but honestly they’re all so different that I’m fully prepared to rewrite this script two more times as Devon and Dallas grow older. But, in the spirit of trying to do better now that I know better here are 5 lessons we try to teach our kids about losing:
As parents we need to teach our kids to push through difficult and be less focused on the results. So you didn’t win, but did you die?! I kid, I kid lol. But did you have fun? You got to play with some friends participating in something you love to do. Did you get better today? Maybe you accomplished a skill today that you weren’t able to do before. And everytime you get back up to try again you get better and better as well.
“Success is the sum of all small efforts, repeated day in and day out”. My new motto to the kids is I want you to finish proud of your effort, not the outcome. I belive that takes the pressure off of kids to feel like your love for them is based off of their performance, fighting the narrative “If I don’t win my parents won’t love me”. This also translates to more than just sports. Last week, Lil Dre got emotional after not doing well on a test in school. Instead of punishing him for a bad grade, I asked him how he would rate his effort in preparing for the test. That immediately shifted his focus from the grade he received to what he could work on before a test in the future. A few examples of praises not attached to end results are:
- I love how hard you’re working
- You’re so focused right now
- I can tell you’ve been practicing
- End with a positive takeaway:
I call it the old slap and stroke. We try to sandwich criticism of a performance between two compliments, making sure to always end with the compliment so the last thing they hear is something good. I think it even helps to offer to work with them. If one of the boys loses to the other and the loser gets upset, I make the loser go and shake hands with the winner and say “good game”.
Ok I’m still working at this part yall. I may or may not have yelled at a ref or two during my husband’s games (for anyone who has witnessed this in person mind your business). I also have a vivid memory of one of Lil Dre’s football games where he wasn’t playing very well and I stood up and yelled “Go hit somebody Dre!” Again not my finest moment but nothing like hearing your kid yell at a ref to start trying to get your act together!
My dad (aka King Petty) is the best at this one lol. Sorry dad but you know it’s true. We have a VERY competitive family so emotions tend to run high when we play games of any kind. But giving kids the opportunity to lose at home gives us as parents the chance to hone those skills to lose before they experience it in front of the rest of the world.
Ya’ll know I love a good positive affirmation, so here are a few for kids that are struggling with a defeated state of mind:
- I will remain focused on my goals
- Even if I have a moment of difficulty I will not give up
- I know success comes with consistency.
- I know I will make it
- Things will get better
- Everything I deserve is coming my way
- No problem or challenge will stop me (followed by our favorite hype song by Andy Mineo YOU CAN’T STOP ME)
The bottom line is, life is all about ups and downs, highs and lows, wins and losses. “As hard as it may be we have to let our kids fail. It’s the only way they will truly learn how to succeed.”And its up to us as parents to do everything we can to teach our children how to lose with grace, and a tenacity to keep working hard even in the face of defeat.
Because life doesn’t come with a manual, it comes with a M.O.M.
Until next time,