How do you teach your kids to lose honorably?
You have to teach kids everything. If you don't have them yet and are thinking of getting some, it's important to realize that you'll have to teach them everything at first. How to walk, yes, how to eat, of course... but stuff like how to sleep, too. Of course, you have to teach them to win properly because at first even the sweetest child will let the moment carry them to arrogance and vanity. Parents have to teach them to monitor this instinct, and I strive to do so without compromising their pride.
I love it when they're proud of what they've accomplished. My children work hard at what they do, be it school or play, and I think being able to acknowledge pride in yourself is extremely valuable. I also value kindness, and am working to teach my children to do the same. Being kind, especially in the face of adversity, is a great challenge and goal. It doesn't hurt you to be kind, it can only improve situations. I'm not talking about passivity or simpering... simply kindness. Therefore, when they've experienced triumph, they are already accustomed to hearing and understanding my 'be kind' mantra. I can remind them of how it feels to have tried your best and lost, and being empathetic people, they can fairly easily temper their jubilation.
I have found teaching them to lose well much more challenging. I'm sure it's my own issues coming to the surface, however some part of me wants to symbolically shake them when they are crushed by a loss, and say something horrid like, 'suck it up! practice more and harder, then!'. Of course I never would say such things, however my patience wears thin when they are soul crushed by a loss in a soccer game, for instance. I try to speak of being kind not only to others, but most importantly of being kind to yourself, all while recognizing what you as an individual could have done differently... in order to grow and not make the same mistakes going forward. And sometimes it even works! Honestly, they've gotten better at processing a loss, and I think that's priceless. As long as there's progress, I can work on being patient.
You may not believe this if you actually read what I wrote, however I am not interested in making my children fragile little snowflakes. I love their competitive spirit, their quest for dominance and success. I don't want to crush that any more than I want to crush their inherent generosity. I touched a bit on the 'everyone gets a trophy' mentality and while I do appreciate a good 'participation trophy' I also believe that there is a developmental appropriateness to the practice. My seven year old? Sure. She's little. Força, however, I'm not so sure about. I believe the AYSO (the soccer [football] organization he plays in) still doles out participation trophies at this age, and I wonder if he'll smell the bullshit. It will be interesting to see how he responds.
Do you have any advice for me? Have kids, don't have kids... I recognize that everyone has individual experiences and those can totally help so... what do you think? Is there something I'm missing in my quest to have my children posses the ability to lose honorably?