Wednesday, March 6, 2013
We do our children and ourselves a disservice if we don't allow them to take responsibility when it is warranted. They grow up to become adults who can always find a reason why their life hasn't turned out as they had hoped or as they feel they deserve . . . and the reason is never themselves.
A recent article in the Huffington Post discusses kids whose parents encourage them, perhaps without realizing it, to be sore losers. It starts innocently when the child is very young. Of course, they don't have the skill to excel at what they try, from walking to feeding themselves to riding a bicycle. We encourage them, we say they're doing great. We let them win board games. We want to see our children happy; we don't like it when they pout or cry. Alas, it is all too easy to continue along this path and not only cheer their achievements, however puny, but start to make excuses for their failures.
If your child isn't successful at an activity, encourage them to try again or try differently or even (gasp!) try harder. You can explain that when you fail and try again, you may be that much closer to success. This could be when you tell them that Thomas Edison tried over a thousand times to invent the lightbulb.
Everyone isn't good at everything. Should it be necessary to state that? We all have our strengths and weaknesses. There's nothing wrong with being average at something as long as you accept that you don't have the skill or natural talent to be much better. Singing, ballet dancing, basketball are activities that come to mind in this category. Great effort can lead to improvements but not sufficient to win the title or medal.
Where the problems occur is if the parent tells the child--or the adult tells themselves--that they really are great or even terrific at the activity but that the referee was unfair or their brother woke them up early before a game or any of dozens of excuses. Better to tell the child--or yourself--that the other team practised more, tried harder or has more skill.
The choice is then to accept reality and continue to enjoy the activity, try harder (at least for a while) and see if you can improve your skill level, or abandon the field to those who truly do excel. But don't whine and blame other factors. Nobody's fooled!