The Difference Between Winning and Losing

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We all want our child to be one of life’s winners, don’t we?

Kids-Playing-Outdoor-new1Losing is a part of adult life that we seem to have decided as a society is no longer important to teach to our kids. When did we stop teaching winning and losing to our children.

We teach sports with no score, classes with no grades and the theory that everyone is a winner.

This is a false lesson we are teaching our children because in life everyone is not a winner. In life there will always be winners and losers, rich and poor, success and failure.

Not teaching children to lose and to learn from losing will handicap their development in the future and could make them unable to effectively handle losing and failure as adults.

Learning to accept losing and to learn from losing early in life helps children succeed and become well adjusted adults in the future.

Everybody wants to be a winner. Jumping up and down, yelling, clapping hands are all gestures that we do when someone wins or does well. Rewarding success with trophies, money, and gifts are just some ways society celebrates a winner. It’s very normal that most parents want their children to win and be successful.

What is not normal is for children to be pushed in to believing that winning is the only thing that matters and that failure, somehow, is a weakness. Accepting failure is not a weakness. It’s easy to teach and model for a child how to win. However, not everybody can win – there will always be a loser.

Teaching your child how to lose is an important lesson that will stay with them the rest of their lives.  Everyday to be effective parents we need to keep helping our children to learn about life.  Your children will become what you are; so be what you want them to be. ~

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I asked a public school coach what age schools start teaching winning and losing in sports. He told me high school. I was shocked that by the time children are  nearly 14 years old they finally are  able to learn about losing.. Since society is not teaching children to lose until their teens, it’s no wonder we have so many poor sports and bad losers in our society. It’s no wonder that a large part of our adult population looks for reasons outside themselves to explain their failures and lack of success.

One of the reasons parents and educators have placed less and less emphasis on teaching winning and losing with children is that for many years we as adults have placed too much importance on winning. We have all been to the little league game with that parent who is far to invested in the result of the game. It is pretty widely known that this overemphasis on winning puts so much pressure on kids to win that all but the best athletes become disinterested in sports all together. Overemphasis on winning and losing can also cause a drop in self esteem in those who do not win.

In any competitive situation, there is always only one winner while many lose. At a time like this a child who is not equipped to handle failure may succumb emotionally to the adverse circumstances in life. As a parent, it is very essential to teach your children to accept failure with grace and dignity. It is cardinal to instill within your children the belief that their failure does not make them lesser or weaker individuals and that they have to face defeat and strive for success again.

When you win, say: “I won this time, but you made a great try.” If  he gets upset, explain that losing is part of playing—the only person who truly loses is the one who doesn’t make an effort. Toddlers and preschoolers are more prone to throwing tantrums when they lose because they lack words to express the intense frustration they sometimes feel. So a certain amount of sore loser behavior is developmentally appropriate. By kindergarten age, this type of reaction should be changing into a give-and-take way of playing games.

Children watch how their parents handle upsets and frustrations. How you handle the stresses of your life sends a huge message to your kids. Act upset but philosophical: “Shoot, I  really wanted to win. Oh well, next time, I’ll get you.” Encourage them to get better at the game by casually pointing out strategies they may have missed.

We live in a time and society that is hyper competitive. People are driven to succeed and are taught that losing is equivalent to failure.

If you conduct an impromptu poll of parents and ask them to name some of the most important skills you need to teach children you probably won’t hear about teaching children how to lose.

3188094-illustration-silhouette-of-young-children-playing-gameIt is too bad because it is a critical skill that will be invaluable to them. The reality is that no one wins every time. It doesn’t matter how smart, how skilled or how lucky you are because you will lose at something. It is a fact of life that comes with the same inexorable force as sunrise and sunset, we all lose sometime.

Responsible parents take steps to provide their children with coping skills. This isn’t just about losing gracefully although it is part of the conversation. It is teaching children how to deal with life when it doesn’t go their way.  They need to learn how to respond to adversity. They need to learn how to deal with a world that doesn’t operate on a level playing field.

When children do not learn from losing they grow up thinking that the game is rigged when they are not successful. They think the system is out to get them and that life is not fair. When they do not accept any of the responsibility for their losses, they will never learn to do better in the future.

Teaching children to lose and to learn from losing will help them be more resilient in their adult life. Learning that we can lose today and win tomorrow is essential. Later in life in college and in the job world true competition still exists and your child needs to be ready for it.

Children need to understand that losing a game does not mean becoming a Loser in life. Once the scrabble and ludo are put away, once the Wii has powered down, and once the mud has dried on their trainers, it’s over, finished. It’s one moment in time. Now, on to the next adventure.

15916Losing - The Difference Between Winning and LosingWinning is always fun, but it shouldn’t be expected; somebody always has to lose. If your child thinks that you expect them to win, it’s only going to make them feel worse if they don’t. Be sure to emphasize to your child that while it would be fun to win, the real fun is in the playing! Be sure that your child knows that all you expect from them is their very best; as long as they tried their hardest, that is even better than winning.

Also be sure to let them know that you are proud of them, no matter what. To make it easy to understand, maybe explain to your child that the game is like a bowl of ice cream and winning is the whipped cream on top. The whipped cream makes it a little better, but the ice cream is still great without it.

Give your children unconditional love. Do not base your parental affection on the child’s performance. Your children should have faith that you will stand for them, despite or in spite of their failures in life. Also, allow your child to vent out his or her emotions in times of failure. Breaking down emotionally or crying is not a sign of weakness. Once the emotional outburst is done with, involve the child in analyzing the situation and identifying the areas of improvisation. Most importantly, make them aware of the significance of participation above winning. Do not forget to appreciate what you found worthy even at a time of failure. Your praise can do wonders in motivating your child to put up another fight. Bring up your children with the belief that there is light at the end of every dark tunnel.

As parents we want our kids to succeed in life, but before they “win” they must also learn to “lose.”
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Here are 5 tips on how to teach your child to lose:

1- Children_playing_Gaelic_football_Ajax_OntarioSeparate self worth from performance: Children do not have an inherent sense of self worth. They develop their sense of self from how those around them treat them. That means it is very easy for a child to equate success or failure as a measure of his own personal value. This makes losing very hard.

You have to make it very clear to your child that your love for him and his value as a person is not based on his performance. You value your child for who he is not how well he does. It is critical that your child understand that your love for him is unconditional.

2- Don’t stifle grief. Losing sucks. No one likes it. If it is something in which your child has invested a lot of time and effort, losing is going to be very hard. It’s okay to be sad. It’s normal and expected. It’s okay for your child to cry.

3- Look back at what happened. After the initial sting has passed, help your child reexamine his performance and figure out how he could have done better. Teach your child how to make losing a vehicle for improvement and future success.

4- Be available to talk. You can let your child take the initiative but make yourself accessible to discuss what is happening. It could be your child has lost interest in the activity or is ready for a change. You can only learn this if you are available to talk when your child is ready.

5- Don’t give up. Losing is a temporary setback. Defeat is only permanent if your child gives up

  • thumbnail.aspxGet your child to focus on having fun, rather than focusing on winning or losing.
  • Teach your child to compete against himself. Even when losing, a child can still have performed much better than previously.
  • Talk to your child about sportsmanship. Use examples of how the best people in the world have had to work hard to get where they are now. Explain to your child that only the best can get up after a defeat.
  • As parent, set the RIGHT example.

Teach your children to be champions at winning, but also winners in defeat. Children are allowed to be competitive, but they must understand that everything is not just about winning.


It’s challenging to see someone struggle. It’s very difficult to watch someone lose-especially

when they try so hard to be successful. The old adage, “if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again” can be frustrating to hear. However, as it is with anything in life, there are lessons that can be learned from losing. Children, especially, need to be reminded that in all things there is always hope.

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Losing is tough, but it’s a necessary evil that makes winning even sweeter. It’s easy to quit after a tough loss, but those who come back, come back stronger and better. In sports and in life.Don’t teach your kids to enjoy or even tolerate losing as they get older. However; let them know even the best lose and that you can learn a lot more about yourself from losing than you do from winning.



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Hello, We are very excited to be here. We hope you will like our website and come back often. We have 10 children between us and 25 grandchildren. We love anything family related. Dennis is a network dispatcher and Barbara works in the food industry and just finished a course in Medical Coding. Thank you for visiting.

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