Pete Gilbert">

I want my kid to be a loser.

“I won, again!”

A few years ago when my oldest daughter was around the age of four, we would play games together. Candy Land, Uno Barn, and Memory were a few of our (her) favorites.

Since it was just her and I playing, I would usually let her win. I thought I was doing her favors by allowing this, but I was also taking the easy way out. When she won there was no crying, no complaining and far less screaming (except for the gloating screams of joy). But, in hindsight, I don’t think I was doing her any favors at all.

Now, a few years later, we all play games together as a family (the two-year-old needs a little help, but she still participates). Since there are three kids playing, not everyone can win. Someone has to lose. I’m learning this is a good thing.

For example, yesterday the five of us played a guessing game called Hedbanz (clearly this is not a game that promotes spelling). Everyone was having a great time, but the entire game our oldest was fixated on the score. It’s been hard to break her of the, “You’re not going to win every game you ever play” habit. I’m not saying it’s her fault, in fact, it’s mainly my fault for giving her the idea in the first place.

Learning to lose is a good thing, LEARNING to lose, which means kids need to be TAUGHT how to lose. They need to learn how to react to a loss.

I’m not just saying this is something for small children in the home, I’m talking about this translating to older kids as they head off to school as well.

Today I heard a story on NPR called, “Does Teaching Kids To Get ‘Gritty’ Help Them Get Ahead?”

http://www.npr.org/2014/03/17/290089998/does-teaching-kids-to-get-gritty-help-them-get-ahead

The story is based on the idea that students should be taught grit (defined as persistence, determination and resilience), and grit is a skill they will need to be successful. The story goes on to talk about teaching kids that it is ok to fail, but it is important to try again. The idea is kids learn that just because they don’t understand something right away doesn’t mean that they can’t, over time with practice, learn it.

Just like my kids are now learning, they aren’t going win every board game they ever play. In fact, dad may not be such a bad Uno Barn player after all.

How about you? Do you let your kids win at games? Is learning to lose an important skill? Is failure in the classroom a good thing?

-Pete

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