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Life Lesson For Children: Sorry, You Don’t Always Win

(Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

Last night my wife and our 4 year old were playing a board game and something timely with the Olympics happened..  She actually won the game.  It should be noted that the extent of this game is spinning a wheel and moving spaces – it’s for a four year old.  Usually he wins, but not because we let him.  He’s just a better spinner apparently.

What came next sparked a conversation about a very important life lesson that too many kids don’t learn.  You don’t always win.  There are WINNERS and there are LOSERS.   It may sound harsh, but that’s how it really is in life.  He was very upset (part of it was he was sleep deprived and cranky.)  He really wanted a trophy and wasn’t happy that mom won.

So we told him how if you won all the time, it wouldn’t be that special.  We tried to explain that sometimes you just don’t win and that’s ok.  We explained good sportsmanship and everything else.  Yeah it could have been a little much, but at least we laid the ground work.

I don’t want to sound like a grump.  I think it’s nice that everyone gets a participation ribbon or something like that in today’s sports.  But beyond that our society continues to make everyone special that shouldn’t be special.   There was a time, not long ago, where it took actual hard work and talent to be a winner.  Now if you act like an idiot on YouTube, you can become famous.  Or maybe you’re lucky enough to be a Kardashian.  Life isn’t fair.  Some people get handed things that they don’t deserve, and some people think they deserve everything and work for nothing.

If you’re like me, you probably grew up with the phrase that was very popular with generation x and y.  “You can do anything if you put your mind to it.”  I believed that for years.  It may sound pessimistic, but it isn’t true.  You CAN do a lot of things if you put your mind to, but some things may forever be out of reach.  For example I wanted to be a fighter pilot when I was 14.  I also learned that I could never be a fighter pilot because I didn’t have 20/20 vision.  (Don’t know if rules have changed, but that was the deal back then.)

When it comes to parenting, I think I’m a pretty positive parent.  I encourage interests and award achievements with praise.  But I will never be the parent that allows their child to think that everything comes easy.

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