Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Being competitive is okay

Why are we so afraid to teach our kids to win or to lose. Why does everyone win? Why are we all winners? I remember getting 3rd in my first race when I was 4 years old. I don't remember everyone getting first. I remember my brother either "winning" his soccer game or "losing" his soccer game. Now, everyone wins. Believe me, I would love to see the joy on my kids face all the time of being the winner but the lesson learned from losing is so much more important.

I was treated the same whether I won a race or lost a race. I actually think my dad never knew what happened in my swimming until I was about 14. But the one thing that would always get my parents attention was if I was acting like a sore loser or a spoiled brat. One time, when I was about 7 years old, I swam my race and cruised into the finish thinking I had won. What I didn't know was that a girl on the other side of the pool had touched the wall before me. I hadn't seen her. I got out of the pool and threw a bit of a fit claiming that the timers were wrong. I was telling this to my mom who shook her head and simply said, "Summer, you just didn't see her." She then started to laugh. Soon, I did too. I learned a lesson and I knew that I didn't win. I got second.

Loser, for some reason, has such a bad picture attached to it. Loser, to me, is someone who tried but didn't win. The most important part being that they tried. What are we teaching our kids if we don't teach then the real truth in trying? The truth is that someone will always win and the others will not. Maybe there are other goals that we can focus on so that not all of the importance is place on the big 'W'.

In swimming, I always based my results on my times. I had goal times for almost every race and if I met those times, it was then a good race. Goals like this keep things in perspective. In youth sports, little goals like staying in position in soccer or stealing the ball in basketball could come in handy. Breaking a sport down into little pieces so that you realize there are plenty of things to be proud of while learning to deal with a "win or lose" is important.

Most importantly, if your kids team wins or loses, life needs to be the same. There should be a big party either way. Or, you can just go about your day. Besides, what you are really celebrating is that your kids were competitive and good sports. That is all we can ask for.

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