Sunday, July 19, 2015

Why Winning - and Losing - is So Important for Children

Why Winning and Losing is Important for Children in Sports
"Why does that kid have a blue ribbon? Mine's yellow. I want blue!"

"But you got a ribbon! You did great!" I answered.

"What's my ribbon for?"

"It's because you participated in a sport."

"Did I win?"

"No dear. But you participated."

"What's par-siss-y-tate?"

Of course, parents and teachers don't want any child to feel left out. And perhaps it is fine for all preschoolers and even kindergartners to get a ribbon or a trophy for participating. But what can children learn from losing - and from winning?

New York City recently had a ticker-tape parade for the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team. They beat Japan for the world's championship!

A young girl asked team captain Abby Wambach, "What advice do you have for me?"

Wambach replied,"It was a long road to get here. Don't ever give up."

Do you think Wambach lost many games? Do you think it inspired her to work harder toward the goal of the United States winning the women's world's soccer title?
The New York Post stated: "Carli Lloyd scored a hat trick within the game’s first 16 minutes and won both the Silver Boot and Golden Ball. Lloyd said, "We didn’t come here to take second place.We came here to win it.... I think we all believed. We all knew it. We felt it and what a convincing win today to get it done.”
I think it may be fine to give all children a ribbon or trophy when they are young - especially children with special needs. But inevitably they will notice that someone got a bigger trophy and wonder why their trophy was smaller - or their ribbon a different color.

Personally, I think it is encouraging to have WINNERS: First Place, Second Place and Third Place. I watched many Field Days at school and handed out many yellow ribbons. But I also noticed children with exceptional sports' abilities and yearned for them to be recognized and commended. They had reached their goal and deserved special recognition. It was through hard work and perseverance that they excelled.

I was saddened to learn that some sports no longer keep score for younger children. "There are no winners and losers here," said a coach. That attitude is not allowing children to face REAL REALITY where there are rewards - and consequences. When we fail, we must learn to pick ourselves up, and try again, and again. This is how we learn coping skills, build confidence and face the realities and challenges of life.

The definition of a game on Yahoo:
1. a form of play or sport, especially a competitive one played according to rules and decided by skill, strength, or luck.
2. a complete episode or period of play, typically ending in a definite result.

What do children learn from winning?
  • An "I can do it!" attitude
  • How to think strategically
  • Athletic ability
  • Competence
  • Confidence
  • How to follow rules
  • How to excel and succeed
What do children learn from losing?
  • Sportsmanship
  • How to follow rules
  • How to work harder to reach goals
  • Life has consequences and rewards
  • How to handle challenges 
  • Courage
  • An attitude of "I can learn from this and do better next time."

Steeler's linebacker, James Harrison, worked very hard to play professional football. He made his boys give their "participation" trophies back and here's why: "I'm not sorry for believing that everything in life should be earned," Harrison wrote, "and I'm not about to raise two boys to be men by making them believe that they are entitled to something just because they tried their best … cause sometimes your best is not enough, and that should drive you to want to do better … not cry and whine until somebody gives you something to shut you up and keep you happy."
Believe me. I know life is not fair. But by hard work and perseverance, anyone can succeed at something. My daughter with special needs came in last in her grade's race, but she won a beautiful medal in an art competition in the Special Needs' category. She still proudly displays her medal.

Would you like a glimpse into Kindergarten? See Kindergarten: Tattle-Tales, Tools, Tactics, Triumphs and Tasty Treats for Teachers and Parents. Would you like to help your preschooler prepare for kindergarten? Read a mom's dilemmas with a teacher's advice and child development explanations in The Happy Mommy Handbook: The Ultimate How-to Guide on Keeping Your Toddlers and Preschoolers Busy, Out of Trouble and Motivated to Learn. These bestsellers make great gifts and are also available on Barnes & Noble and Kobo. The eBooks are only $3.99.

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