MY CHILD LOST, WHAT NOW?
People that know me, know that one of my personal favorite sayings is: “You need to learn how to lose before you can learn how to win!”
Why is it so difficult for children to lose? Children feel like a failure or ashamed when loosing. Let’s be honest, Society loves winners. Our kids are like little sponges and they see and mimic everything we do from a small age. So dad, what do you do when your favorite football team wins? You jump up and down screaming from delight and are in a great mood, right? On the other hand, what do you do when they lose? You mope, scream and blame the umpire. You walk around sulking for an hour or two letting everyone know how upset you are. Whether we want to know it or not, we set the table and culture of a winning only environment.
This Article by Emily Hughes talks about the Bobo Doll experiment: “Children are very prone to imitate the actions of those around them, especially adults. This was made clear in the Bobo Doll experiment done by Bandura, in which children that saw adults beating up a Bobo Doll did the same things to the doll. Lastly, parents are in charge of their child’s experiences and social interactions, and thus the environment the child is exposed to, with the parent’s permission shapes their future behavior. Although all parents influence their children through similar avenues, the ultimate effect on the child differs on parenting style.”
Meet Little James Cardin. James started doing wrestling when he was eight years old. Jess practiced 2-4 times every week, working at his fitness, strength, technique, and everything that is needed to master wrestling. James’s parents took him to every competition they could and as often as they could through the wrestling season. Unfortunately, James was always ending up last, second to last or somewhere around there.
Fast forward 2 years later, James Cardin Started winning some matches on competition day. The standing one the number one spot on the podium still eluded him. However, slowly but surely closing the gap onto the once seemingly unbeatable competitors.
Fast forward two more years. James Cardin wins, not just small competitions, but major competitions like regionals and Nationals. People start to stand up and notice him, he becomes a force to reckon with, being highlighted as a prospect, and even as a future Olympian.
Let’s fast forward another 2 years. James Cardin became one of the best wrestler’s. Not just in his weight and age categories, but Nationally, winning trails, and going on to become an International wrestler. Winning Continental championships, and going on to qualify to participate in World Championships.
Loosing is pretty much part of life. No one ever just wins, not even Olympic champions just win. Sure the odds are a little bit in their favor, and they lose much less than winning. However, the fact remains that they also loose from time to time.
OK, let’s get back to James, so what happened? I’ll tell you what happened, his parents happened. Obviously, it took much more than just his parents, with a lot of other involvements. Ultimately, the fact remains it started with his parents, the biggest influence and impact came from his parents. They were the ones that made the right decisions at the right time and saying the right things to not just keep James motivated to continue but to let him believe that he can achieve. They used the positive motivational Technique. Every loss James had his parents used as an opportunity to get him to be enthusiastic about the fix, and the outcome of the fix.
What should you do on competition day if he loses?
RIGHT AFTER THE MATCH
- It is painful for a parent to see his or her child lose, but remember if you feel this way, just think how your child is feeling, he is the one that actually just lost.
- We are grownups and should be able to have control over our emotions. Bite on your tongue, now is not the time to have a big speech and explain where he or she went wrong.
- Your child may have lost because he had a tough opponent, or he just did not compete the way that he should have. It really does not matter at this stage, he already lost and you need to be there for him right now. Whatever you want to say right now, he already knows.
- Pat your child on the back and give him a hug, and that is that. Yes dad, you can give that son of yours a hug, even if he is 16, he just lost and needs it.
- Give him some space to recover from the lost, most of the times they want to be alone for 5 or ten minutes. Let them go, there is no need to run after him to see if he is ok. He might not be ok now, but he will be.
- After you gave him ten minutes or so to recover from the loss. Go and look for him, take him outside away from people and sit down and chat with him.
- It is really necessary to be honest here. You can start by saying something like: “ Sheesh that really sucked.” Kids are not stupid if you start right of by saying: “aghhh, that was nothing it’s ok” they will know you are talking crap, it was not ok. After all, you probably were the one making a big deal of the competition, so how can the loss not be a big deal now all of a sudden?
- However, this is still not the time to tell him exactly what went wrong and what he should have done. Be sincere and tell him it was crap, to lighten the mood give a smile and little rub on the head, but then you tell him it is ok, he lost and he made a mistake and it is over.
- If he is in a sport that he will need to compete again on the day, it is now very important to let him understand that the loss is over. It happened and you cannot change that, and have no control over it anymore. He does however, have the power to control the outcome of the next match, and must now focus on that.
- At this stage, it is very important to get him over the loss as quickly as possible, in order for him to focus on the next match.
- Your child should see that you are not bothered about the lost more than what is needed and that you emphasize the fact that it is in the past. Keep leading him to believe that he now needs to focus on what he has control over, the next match. Most of the times he will feed on your energy and pick himself up, and get himself mentally ready for the next match, putting the loss behind him.
- Now is a good time to tell him what the positive side is that can still come from the competition. It all depends on the format of the competition, he can still get silver, bronze or be ranked. There is always something positive that you can focus on. If all else fails, use the old: “Now you go and show them that you just slipped and who you really are” motivation.
- Get a smile out of him, give that hug again and send him off to sort his head out for the next round
THE CAR RIDE HOME
- In a previous blog I wrote about the car ride home. Parents, please if he lost one, two or every single match. The car ride home is not the place to talk about the negatives of the match.
- If you really have nothing positive to say about the competition day or his performance, then put on the radio and make it a quiet ride home, bite your tongue.
AFTER THE COMPETITION AND AT HOME
- The same day is usually still not the right time to talk about the lost, even if you are now at home, give it a day or two. Take it easy the night, go out or sit and watch movies.
- So, a day or two past by and time have come to have a chat about the lost.
- I like to use Visual examples like videos to show or talk about what happened, what went right, what went wrong and what can be done to fix it.
- A lost is a perfect opportunity to use positive motivation. I like to use it to show the child how close he actually was to the win. Usually, it was because of one or two small technical errors. It is also a time to bond with your child. This again is not the time to break him down and tell him how stupid he was by doing this or that. Rather use it positively, and tell him that if he may be moved his arm this way or that way the match would have swung in his direction.
- Break the video down, and show him not just the places where he went wrong, but also where he did it right. Remember you cannot just be negative because then the child will feel like it was a total fail. Just showing the negative aspects will not help him to be enthusiastic to right the wrongs, but rather make him feel that there is no hope.
- Teach him where he could have done certain things differently, by reinforcing the whole time how close it was, and that if he had done this differently, the whole match outcome would have been different.
- Always end of by again reinforcing the fact, that even though he lost, he now knows where the mistakes were, and that if he fixes those small things the victory will be his.
BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD
- Use the loss to your advantage, do not leave it there. You can use this to encourage your child to attend more practices or work harder at practice, motivating him the whole time.
- Remember throwing the loss back in his face the whole time is not positive motivation, it will have the opposite effect.
- Do not tell him if he slacks off in a practice that he will lose again, or ask him whether he forgot about the loss last time. Rather remind him what he is working for, and to work on those small mistakes he did last, in order for him to claim the victory next time.
- Every time you see him working on fixing those errors in practice, you should praise him afterward, and tell him that you are already seeing the difference in his game by fixing those errors.
Use Positive motivation to help your child overcome a loss.