The art of winning and losing. It’s hard to teach, painful to watch someone experience, but at the end of the day it’s an incredibly important skill for everyone to learn. Growing up with a family who loved winning, my parents did a great job teaching us the art of being a good winner and an even better loser. They did such a good job teaching us that concept that copying it from the Unwritten Parent Manual was no a brainer.
You can ask any of my siblings about playing cards and games with my mom at the kitchen table. If you won, you had to say good game and play again. If you lost, you had to say good game and play again. We never played just one game. We would play game after game after game multiple nights a week. Winning or losing a single game didn’t matter because there was always another game. How many times can you flip the board when you lose before it gets old? How many times can you gloat before it just gets old? I don’t know what the number is, but it exists and we hit it.
With my mom we played games based on chance and the luck of the draw. When we played with my dad, we did sports where we could directly impact the result of the game. We would play a basketball game called one on one derby in the driveway with my dad for hours. Games were to 1. If You lost you were off, but if you won you stayed on. First one to win 10 games in a row won the whole thing. But the thing is, no one ever won 10 games in a row. After playing what seemed like 100 games, he would tell us what we each had to work on to win 10 games in a row next time. Then we would each practice to get an advantage over the other for the next time we played.
In trying to copy these strategies with my kids, I can say from the trenches, it’s hard. It’s hard because winning and losing isn’t as simple as the outcome of a match. If my kid is playing soccer and their team wins, but they do absolutely terrible, it’s as if they lost. Success in understanding the concept of winning and losing come in small glimmers, which I shower with ridiculous amounts of positive reinforcement. At some point between today and when my kids are legal adults, something will click, and it has too. That is why I feel every parent should learn strategies to teach this concept.