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Teach your child to lose!

The scene: Karate Kumite Tournament, Jan 2013 The players: My 8 year old green belt son and a tall lanky 9 or 10 year old green belt boy from Bangalore The action: Kick, kick, block, box, kick, kick, block, box ( you get the drift, d on’t you?) Closing scene: My son loses after a tough fight and is in tears A scene which has been enacted in practically every child’s life a billion times over and one which has left every parent searching for the right tools to handle!

From the usual aphorism “It’s ok to lose, it’s the participation that matters” to teachings from Bhagavad Gita, we tried everything, but in vain. He was quite inconsolable and suddenly decided to take the easy way out. Much to my surprise and chagrin, my son resolved not to take part in tournaments again!

So, how do you handle such situations: 1. How do you teach your child to channelise the bitter disappointment into a grit and determination to succeed? 2. How do you equip your child with the mental strength to accept that someone else may be better at something he/she thought he/she was good at? 3. How do you give your child a balanced exposure to wins and losses?

How do you teach your child to lose?

Of course, I’m not looking for answers here; different methods would suit different parenting styles and different kinds of children. But, the key here is to ensure that ultimately, your child has the perseverance to work hard, the mental toughness to lose at times and a healthy competitive attitude.

And, by the way, after a lot of discussion, my son has now agreed to sticking on to Karate till he attains Black Belt and taking part in tournaments occasionally, as he sees fit!


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Like most mothers she knows, Ramya juggles between finding something that satisfies her inner self and doing something that satisfies her family! Mother of two children, a boy and a girl, her parenting philosophy is not so much to be a popular, cool parent as to bring them up with values that she holds dear. When not donning her 'amma' hat, she switches between being 'manager of Digital Learning at IIMB', 'payer of bills', 'cook', 'cleaner' and 'reader of PG Wodehouse and Georgette Heyer.'

2 thoughts on “Teach your child to lose!

  1. Gayatri

    Good point, Ramya! Learning to lose, and gracefully at that, is an important life skill that we should impart to our kids. That is why I think kids and teens should take part in sports, especially in team sports – it gives them a good insight into what life will be later on in adulthood.


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