Have you ever slowed down to let your child win a race or changed the rules to let your child beat you in a game?
Losing can be hard for children and watching your child lose can be even harder. Oftentimes, letting our kids win seems like the right thing to do, but allowing your children to experience failure is an important part of the learning process. Children are naturally competitive and they love playing games, but sometimes losing can trigger some big reactions. Learning to cope with these feelings appropriately and grow from our mistakes can be even more valuable than the successful feeling of a win.
“Losing is only temporary and not all encompassing. You must simply study it, learn from it, and try hard not to lose the same way again. Then you must have the self-control to forget about it.”
- John Wooden, All American basketball coach and player
In first grade, we provide daily experiences for children to learn through hands-on games. While the main focus of these activities is typically academic, we find that games are an engaging way for students to apply new concepts. Learning through play also helps create developmentally appropriate situations for children to experience both wins and losses. Before engaging in competitive activities in the classroom, we discuss that some friends may win and some friends may lose. We model appropriate reactions to both scenarios through role play. Front loading students before they engage in partner work gives them the tools to be successful when interacting with peers. Since games are a daily part of our curriculum, it is a safe environment for children to experience failure or loss, and they quickly develop strategies to be more successful in the future.
Experiencing loss allows children to develop coping skills, learn from their mistakes by analyzing what went wrong, and practice self-control. Children who have experienced losing are able to have empathy for others when they lose, which helps them become more gracious winners. Next time you sit down to a game with your child, consider setting up a safe environment for them to experience a loss. Model appropriate reactions when your child wins, and reassure them when they are losing that challenges are part of the learning process. Helping your child develop a positive, growth mindset will give them the life-long skills they need to become confident individuals.
First Grade Co-Teacher