Coping With Disappointments: Teaching Your Child About Winning and Losing

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I feel that I should write this in the hopes of sharing our experiences about winning and losing to other parents who let their kids join in contests. In the light of the recent finale of the The Voice Kids where Lyca Gairanod won and that left a wailing runner-up Darlene Vibares on stage calling for her mama, I think that we all should have the right perspective in joining contests so that these situations may be avoided. You see, Darlene had been subjected to online bashing because she came out as a brat who could not accept defeat. I feel bad that she had to go through that and I wouldn’t want Dindin to endure such.

On the same day that The Voice Kids ended, the SM Little Stars 2014 Bacolod elimination was also held. Our daughter Dindin won. And we are so proud of her. But I thought of waiting until the Regional Finals in Cebu were over before writing this. Now, Dindin didn’t win in the Regional Finals. But nobody in our family cried and we still had so much fun after the contest. It was still a privilege to be sent to Cebu in order to compete. It was also kind of a free vacation for our family.

So how did we teach the concept of winning and losing to Dindin? Here are the ways…

1. Identify your purpose for joining. We liked the prizes that will be given away at the SM Little Stars Grand Finals so we are willing to go through the three rounds of eliminations before we can get to the finals. That was also clear for Dindin. This is the first talent contest that Dindin joined and since she is homeschooled, we consider this as part of her extra-curricular activities. So while others in regular school may compete for grades, we compete for the prize.

2. Give it your best shot. We encouraged Dindin to do her best, quoting a memory verse from one of her lessons, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord…” Taken from Colossians 3:23, this verse should very much be our attitude about joining contests. If you do your best with all your heart and do it for the glory of God, it does not matter whether you win or lose. The point of the matter is to please God. If you win, it is already a bonus. Explaining this to your child also makes it easier to comfort him if he loses.

3. Allow the idea that someone else may be better than you. While our kids may be good at what they do, we have to give allowance that someone else might be better. Or sometimes, there are technical problems or suddenly your child is not well enough to perform. There are many factors to winning and we have to give allowance to that.

4. Never promise victory to your child. On the contrary, tell your child the truth. She could win the first prize or land in the minor slots. Or she may not win anything at all. Like in the SM Little Stars, it’s an all or nothing game.

5. Give the assurance of love and acceptance. Children need to be reassured time and again of our love and acceptance. And this is especially true when joining contests. They need to be reassured that we love them no matter what the outcome of the contest is.

6. Teach the difference about losing and failing. This situation reminds us of the story of the King of Scotland—King Bruce—that Dindin often reads as part of the Aesop’s Fables collection. King Bruce lost the battle seven times but he got up eight times. That means he kept on fighting until he won the battle for his kingdom. We are teaching Dindin to keep trying until she succeeds. Losing is not failure. But quitting is.

In the same manner, we have taught Dindin to be humble in victory. She has watched shows where the topic is bragging and she understands how annoying bragging can be.

We have to admit that we also thought of NOT letting Dindin join contests in order to protect her from disappointments. However, we cannot deny the fact that our lives have its share of disappointments, albeit in different levels of gravity. But they are there. The important thing is to teach our children how to cope with them.

Will your children become successful? Or will they become sore losers? Well, I think it depends on how we teach them. God bless us all in this journey! 😀


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