Teaching children how to be well-rounded, functional adults can be challenging, even from a young age. One of the most difficult things to teach is how to deal with and move past failure. Whether your child participants on a sports team or you frequently play board games together, encouraging them to be positive even when they lose is important. Learning how to lose well early in life can actually help kids become far more resilient adults. Here are 3 healthy ways to help your child deal with losing a game.
Help them identify (at least) 3 things they did right
No matter how poorly they may have done, chances are good your child did something really well in the course of the game. Even if they didn’t play, if they were gracious about it, that is still something to be proud of. Ultimately, you want to help them assess and evaluate their own performance outside of the outcome. There is very little that we can control in life outside of our own actions, so rather than focusing on the outcome of the game itself, help them focus on their own performance.
Help them identify 3 areas they can improve in
It is very important to not attempt to look at anything they did “wrong” before helping them identify what they did correctly. Even then, you don’t want to phrase or even frame it as something they did wrong; instead, identify areas where they can improve. Doing this helps reframe each event as a learning experience rather than a failure. Sometimes the ultimate outcome will be a win, sometimes it will be a loss, but if you learn something new each time that can help you learn, grow, and develop, then ultimately the game does not have to be a personal loss.
Help them identify 3 things they want to do differently next time
One individual game often has very little significance in light of a whole season, and even a losing season has little significance in the course of a lifetime. Many professional athletes have a plethora of losses under their belts, and those losses may have actually been far more critical to their eventual success than their early wins. Losses generally push us to do better, work harder, and become stronger. If you frame each loss as an opportunity for growth, you will end up helping produce far more resilient adults. Working with your child to identify specific areas of growth and improvement can help them recognize that there will be additional opportunities in the future and that they should strive to perform differently in that scenario.
Failure is a part of life, and helping your children learn how to accept and learn from their own losses can help them move more smoothly through life.