MY daughter came home one day in tears. She participated in a sports carnival and lost her game at the quarterfinal stage. Knowing how hard she practised for the event, I understood how devastating this loss must’ve been to her. She was so discouraged, pointing out that everything has been such a waste of time and that she didn’t want to try again.
A learning curve arrives when you least expect it. This was one such moment. The pain of losing is very real, especially when you’ve set your target high and the outcome turns out differently. However, we have a choice and control over how we react to disappointments. My daughter chose to react negatively, leading to her breakdown.
It was up to me to help her deal with this. I thanked her for opening up to me and I encouraged her to have a good cry and let out all her pent-up frustrations. After a while, she was finally ready to talk.
She had waltzed through relatively easy games during the first round and was feeling confident. However when it came to the quarterfinals, she had finally met her match. She lost badly and was really disappointed with her performance.
I related to her stories about many successful athletes who lost more games than the ones they won. However, in every loss they encountered, they also “won” when they tried to learn something from it. Were they using the right strategy? Did they underestimate their opponent’s strength? Did they practise enough? These questions and further self-analysis provided many valuable inputs for the next game. They proportionately increased their chances of winning the next round by learning from their mistakes and losses.
Then I reminded her that these principles also hold true to life outside the court. We will not always get what we want. There will always be someone better, faster and stronger than us. But this doesn’t mean we will be left behind. What it simply means is that we need to try again after analysing and applying the lessons learnt during our knocks. I reminded my daughter that it is not all about trying to win everything but it’s about trying to win at the right moment. Life is a marathon and there’ll be plenty of chances ahead, as long as she keeps running.
Winners never quit and quitters never win. It’s our job to always remind our kids that sometimes it’s okay to lose at some things. Their lives are already full of challenges in and out of the classrooms. We need to be sensitive to their feelings and play the role of a cheerleader when it matters most.
Avoid the urge to brush their feelings aside with a quick comment. Instead, take the time to explain things properly until you see them smile again. Ensure that they absorb the valuable lessons life is presenting them. If done consistently, they will always be winners despite losing the game.
Zaid Mohamad coaches and trains parents to experience happier homes and more productive workplaces. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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