I was delighted to read the attached article by Kenneth Barish, where he talks about helping children learn to accept defeat gracefully. In it he writes as a parent on the importance of parents acting as role models for how to play enthusiastically and deal with winning and losing gracefully. I feel he shows an insight into how complex this idea of winning and losing is and how we help a child learn to accept defeat.
Playing any game is not just to do with the result of the game but what we’ve gotten out of playing the game – enthusiasm, anxiety, fun, sharing. Dealing with failure is only one point on this process. Also, how we, as parents, deal with winning and losing is probably more important than what we try to ‘teach’ our children about them. Can we be parents that children can look up in how we deal with life’s failures? Follow what I do, not what I say!
Raising children is not just about getting each situation ‘right’ so that our children never have to deal with defeat- most parents know that. Parenting is about realising that when we have learned to really feel the loss, disappointment and frustration associated with loss that we become stronger. We build a ‘muscle’ to deal with life. So feel free to support your child in defeat!
Here’s an apt quote, I think, from Henry James.
“Sorrow comes in great waves, but rolls over us and though it may almost smother us, it leaves us. And we know that if it is strong, we are stronger, in as much as it passes and we remain”
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