Everywhere around your child, the focus of the environment is on winning. Whether it is in sports, or his favourite hobby, or academic competitions, the emphasis is on how to make it to the first place. Whenever we prepare our child to participate in any such event, we all know in our hearts, there is usually a greater chance for the child to lose than to win. In those moments of dejection and disappointment due to defeat, children decide in their minds how they would participate in the next event. Sometimes the decision made by them is to not participate at all! Defeat is difficult to bear, but inevitable yet. It is an important lesson for the child as he must learn to take winning and losing both in his stride.
Here are five very important tips for you to teach your child how to handle losing and defeat:
1. Focus on the effort
In whatever your child chooses to undertake, focus on putting in honest and sincere effort.
This would get him greater happiness and better results in the long-run. It is a lesson for life actually, and would help him get positive outcomes in every pursuit. Ask yourself – would you like your child to learn the ‘tricks’ of the trade, or the trade itself? Teaching a child how to win a particular game or excel in a particular event may get results. But a worthy lesson is to teach the child to put his best foot forward always.
2. Applaud the winner
When someone else wins, it is the time to applaud his success rather than brooding over your own failure. Teach your child that ‘the best sportsman must win’. The child must learn to honour excellence, in himself or in others – regardless. Of course it is disheartening for the child to lose, but children are born with immense resilience. They can handle defeat better than what we assume. When you play with your child, you need not necessarily let the child win. Winning must not seem easy to him, because it would diminish the will to persevere.
3. Acknowledge his courage in facing defeat
Many parents just avoid the topic altogether which involves disappointment and defeat. They feel, by not bringing it up, it shall pass sooner and the child will forget. Chances are the child would forget, but without learning how to face such situations. A very great danger which children face in these situations where parents avoid speaking about failures is that they begin to withdraw.
To make our children inwardly robust, it is important to speak about things which are unsettling too. When your child is undergoing a period of challenge or disappointment, appreciate his resolve, and his effort. That would give him a sense of comfort as well as renew his spirit to face greater challenges in the future.
4. Introspect the cause
While the matter is still fresh, have your child look into himself and his effort. Let him find a reason for his failure. To be able to evaluate oneself objectively is an immense ability, which would make him an extra-ordinary human being in times to come. Being able to speak impartially and objectively about ones shortcomings is a lesson which will help your child throughout his life. As a parent, you can feel content that your child will deal with challenges positively once he has learnt this lesson.
5. Maintain Emotional Balance
Failure and disappointment bring about few typical emotional responses. As parents, we must at this point resist giving our opinion and insights however useful they may be. Instead, to allow the child to fully express his emotional agony, parents must sincerely listen. Listen without breathing a word. Children often feel let down by their parents when in such a delicate moment they are given lessons where they have expected, and rightfully deserved our patience.
To be truly happy in life, one has to learn to respond to life’s surprises, reverses and consequences with a sense of balance. The time to begin the lesson is in childhood itself.