Winning by Losing

I want my sons to be losers.

That’s right. Losers. L-O-S-E-R-S.

I know that’s not something you often hear a parent say but, in my mind, losing is one of the best way to teach kids to win.

Let me explain:

My 4-year-old loves to win. He likes to be first, he likes to compete. During trick-or-treating, he raced one of his friends to each house in a game of “I-can-get-their-first-and-get-the-best-candy.” It wasn’t a just kids having fun. For my son, it was a win at all costs battle. At a recent gymnastics class, my son threw an EPIC tantrum (the people from Guinness actually called because they heard about it) when he wasn’t chosen to lead one of the exercises.

Sadly, I must admit, he takes after his old man. Family legend has it that aunts, uncles, cousins wouldn’t play cards or games with me when I was little because I was such a sore loser.

And I remember one game of “Candyland” that my 5-year-old brain was sure I rigged to my advantage. But after 3 minutes of playing, my father realized I cheated, scolded me and refused to play with me.

I told you I hated losing.

In a lot of ways, I still loath losing — to the point of melancholy. As an adult I manage it better and have grown to understand that sometimes winning and losing is only the superficial outcome of a life pursuit. But throughout my myriad losses in sports, rejection in hobbies and failings at work or elsewhere in life, I’ve learned what it takes to win. I’ve learned that nothing replaces hard work, persistence and determination. I’ve also learned that victory is so much sweeter when you work your butt off and persevere. For me, that lesson has served me well. I compete for stories as a journalist and it helps me to channel my unquenchable inner drive to be my best, to smash the competition and to feel the pride of knowing that I tried to outwork my competitors and do my utmost to win.

And that’s what I want my kids to learn.

Whenever my boys want to race me in the backyard I face this dilemma — do I let them win? If I do, will they learn that winning takes effort? If I do, will they feel the satisfaction of winning and want to continue striving and trying to regain that sweet, sweet feeling? If I win, will I crush their young spirits and cause them to give up?

There’s a lot I don’t know but I do know this — life won’t let them win. As my grandfather always says, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” If you want something badly enough in this world, you have to work to get it, unless you are born into privilege that most of us will never know.

My boys will grow up seeing losing as a positive; an opportunity that gives us a path — learn from it and become stronger, more passionate about conquering your shortcoming or simply, quit.


The Beginning
About Happiest Daddy

Two boys, one wife and a ton of material. I live for family and I'm one of the most blessed people you will ever meet.

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