Teaching Kids to Win when they Lose

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The kids and I in May of 2014
If Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, awards for things I know my kids won’t win is the worse time of the year. Let me fully explain.
We are an awards obsessed culture. If I sign up for a race and I don’t get a medal, the race director certainly gets the side eye. I even feel that I need awards for doing simple things such as cleaning my toilets. I am doing a great job reflecting the culture I live in. I’m human and I’m very good at it. Back to the kids.
I am all for kids earning awards that make a difference. Honor roll means my kid did their homework and mastered the material. I also have been the kid who did not master the material and had to repeat a grade. I didn’t cry about not having awards back then because I was old enough to understand what I got myself into. I also did not come from a family/culture that was awards obsessed. Back to the kids again.
I get sad when my kids cry because they did not get an awards that in their 3-year-old mind, makes an immediate difference. I’ve been through this so many times that I decided that if talking doesn’t work, I was going for the “Listenbee Company Incentive Plan.” Here’s how the plan worked:

Year 1: the 3-year-old balled her eyes out. I told her we’d try harder next year. We did try harder that following year.
Year 2: the 4-year-old still didn’t win and she balled her eyes out again. I affirmed her efforts and I introduced our Company’s Incentive Plan.
Year 3: the 5 year-old no longer cried but the whole Incentive Plan backfires because the youngest Company member who was now 3 balled her little eyes out. She quickly composed herself when she heard there was a great Company Incentive Plan on the table.

You and I know that there is very little that 3-year-olds do for themselves. The real people winning awards are parents. I respect a parent’s eagerness and competitiveness as well as their own Company Incentive Plans. I decided after Year 1 that I was not going to lose my peace and joy because of such temporary awards. I still want my child to be a great participant. I remind my little ones each year that the greatest lesson we learn is how to be truly happy for others. The richest lessons in life my friends are learned in these vexatious circumstances. Can you truly be happy when you lose?

Living in an award obsessed culture has taught me to be creative when parenting my children. I teach that the only reward we want to attain comes from a God who one day will say “well done.” I hope my kids and I hear “well done feeling happy in your heart for that person who won the award you wanted so much.” If strength of character is what we get from this experience, I’m okay with that. Oh, let’s not forget that Listenbee Company Incentive Plan that totally rocks. The plan is to celebrate their year of hard work at Chickfila. We hardly go out to eat, so you can imagine their joy when they hear this Company Incentive is on the table.  

How do you help your kids navigate through the reality of not winning?