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Teach Your Kids The Real Truth About Failure

Alison Wood | 4, March 2013


You've been to the sports banquet where everyone receives a trophy. Above the coaches' and leaders' heads a banner hangs that displays the phrase, "Everybody's a Winner!" This phrase makes all of us feel warm and mushy inside, but is it reality? Are we teaching our kids real-life principles?

The "everybody is a winner" philosophy is only a facade. During the Superbowl, Olympics, World Series and other sports championships, banners that say "Everybody is a winner" are not displayed in the spectator stands. Instead, one team is deemed the winner and the other is in the most undesirable position -- the loser.

At work, is everyone a winner? Does everyone receive the desired promotion and pay-raise? No, some people are promoted and some are even demoted.

Bring it to your kid's level. During the classic game of Candy-land, is everyone a winner? Absolutely not. The person that reaches the end of the spaces is recognized as the winner, not all the participating players.

As parents, our job is to prepare our children for what is in the near future -- competition, failure and victory. Teaching our kids true reality will aid them in becoming well-rounded adults. How can we do this successfully in the lives of our toddlers and young children?

Face the facts. All men are not created equal. Some kids are smarter, stronger, faster and more musically adept than others. Teach your kids now this fact of reality. Encourage them to find joy in the fact that their friends are successful in a certain area of life. If your child's friend is the fastest runner on the soccer team, teach your child to cheer him on. Direct your child away from feelings of jealousy and anger because someone else is succeeding or in the spotlight. If left unchecked, these undesirable emotions can linger and create a whiny, pouty adult that is only concerned about one's own success.

Focus on improving. A child's main goal should be improvement, not surpassing other individuals. If winning and conquering is always the goal, kids will soon become discouraged. Instead of teaching your kids to win, win, win, try teaching them to become more proficient in an area of learning, sports, character development or music.. Even if perfection is not achieved, your child will be successful. Try a new motto around the house,"Improvement is Success!"

Failure will come. Most things in life are learned through trial and error.. It is inevitable that your kids will fail sometime in their toddler-hood and childhood. Helping them deal with failure now will lessen the blow later on in life.

"My dad always reminded me a simple truth when I was growing up. He told me,'In everything you do, some people will be better than you and some will be worse.' These words helped me not feel so defeated when I loss to an opponent in my adult life." recollects one mom.

Be there to lift them up and pat them on the back. Point out where they did well and where improvement is needed. Let your child find solace and love in your arms and words, but be sure to remind them that sometimes we all fail, lose or mess-up. No one has lived their life without making a mistake, and neither will your little one.

Face the fear. Try to get your kids to participate in activities at home and school without the fear of losing. Sometimes kids dread playing kickball, dodge ball and other games for the fear of losing and being ridiculed. Teaching your kids to be confident and secure, win or lose, will help them fight this fear that is more common among timid children.

Many times if the loser congratulates the winner, the winner is less likely to boast and say hurtful things to the other opponent. Teach your kids to be the first one to step-up and say,"Good game" whether they win or lose!

Fight against comparing. Never compare your kiddos with other kids, or among themselves. Don't ask why Garret can make straight A's and your son can only make C's. Refrain from praising a child at the expense of degrading another. All kids deserve praise and encouragement, so give it out liberally! Find amiable characteristics in all of your kiddos and their friends.

Kids will fail. Kids will succeed. Kids will win. Kids will lose. Don't shelter your kids from these truths, but teach them to deal with these aspects of life.

Alison Wood is a stay-at-home mom of six and freelance writer and blogger. She enjoys raising her six children and desires to share her experiences to help other mothers.

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