My husband and I like a bit of competition, we’re a bit of a sporting family actually, if you didn’t already know, we’ve been known to enjoy a sporting event of a weekend, or a weekday, or everyday actually. The latest parenting issue facing us is the whole winning and losing thing, not for my husband’s team (though, his team losing every week is making my upcoming problem a little easier to explain) but for my daughter. She wants to win EVERYTHING, all the time and if she doesn’t, she has the most horrendous tantrum.
This morning we decided to play pairs, (you know the card game?) now, I beat her, and said horrendous tantrum followed, and though some of my friends would say I beat her because I am super competitive, that’s not the reason I beat her. I beat her because firstly, I was just playing the game too, but also because I don’t want to teach her that she will win every time, at everything. That’s not how life works… but then I got to thinking, should I really be telling her to stop crying when she gets beat?? I explained once she calmed down that it isn’t possible to win every game, every time, and that she could perhaps practice the pairs game some more and then next time she might beat me, but maybe she wouldn’t. She seems to understand each time I explain, until the next time she loses, then we have the same reaction again.
Now I’m torn, I do think children should be competitive sometimes and want to win but they should also learn to be gracious in defeat. It’s such a hard thing to teach, such a fine balance…and very difficult for a 4 year old to understand. I really can’t say I am a fan of “it’s the taking part that counts” attitude either. Elite sports are so beneficial for children with athletic potential, and if I believed it was “the taking part that counts” then I wouldn’t have achieved what I did in my sporting career, but watching my 4 year old in tears after she loses at the silliest thing makes me so mad.
What’s a (competitive) mum to do?