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Why Losing Is Important for Children

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Games Are Not Just about Winning

For parents, it is important to remember that there is a lot more to winning a competition, says Kenneth Barish a professor of Psychology. Every competition is a socializing experience for children. Participating in competitions in kindergarten, at school or at the playground can help parents teach their kids about the importance of teamwork, commitment to a task, cooperation and respect for the opponent. Every game is also an opportunity for children to learn to play by the rules. Even though these rules seem arbitrary to children, they need to learn that rules serve particular purposes. Competitions are a good place to demonstrate the reasons behind the rules to children to help them understand them and follow them.

What Can Children Learn from Losing?

The feeling of losing and moving on are particular skills children need to develop in order to deal with negative experiences in life when they become older. It might not seem fair to children that one kid can do something faster or better than they can, but parents can teach their children that everyone has different talents and that it is impossible to be good at everything.

Research has shown that losing games is helpful for children because it teaches them to show empathy and cope with the experience of losing.

Christine Carter, who has published books on parenting, says that children need to practice losing in order to be able to cope when they lose in a competition in front of their peers.

Children who do not experience losing can grow up to be anxious, because they start seeing the possibility of not winning as some form of harm and they cannot deal with situations that do not go their way.

Losing a game is the only way for children to learn from their mistakes and think about strategies to improve. When children improve their skills and win the next time, they do not only get better at the sport or game, but they also learn something new. Learning new things increase children’s confidence and their self-belief and they start to be proud of their abilities.

When children lose, they also learn to identify themselves with others who have lost. Melody Brook, a therapist in Texas, says that the experience of coping with loss is helping children to show empathy towards other children in the same position. A child that has never lost a game will not realize that everyone struggles in life.

Finally, losing shows children that they need to work hard in order to have success, because good things are not just handed over to them. These situations also help children to lose with grace in front of others and to be seen as a fair loser.

Taken from Anne Steinhoff – Novak Djokovic Foundation, August 23 2016 https://novakdjokovicfoundation.org/winning-losing-important-children/

What are some of the best lessons you think a Child can learn from winning and losing?

As a coach, how do you help kids and parents value the importance of wins as well as losses?