There seems to be a disconnect between winning and losing nowadays. While we idolize athletes that go to the Olympics and root for our favorite sports team, it is also not uncommon to teach our kids that winning isn't everything.
For example, we give trophies to everyone who participates, not only the champions. We make sure that certain people aren't praised too much, so others don't feel bad.
While understanding how to be a good sport and team player is important, it shouldn't overshadow the desire to win. It is almost as if we are more afraid of our kids failing, then we are proud of them winning. But, failure is important. Here's why.
Failure is hard. It is not fun to work hard for something just to have it not work out or to lose, but it builds character. It shapes you into a better person. If everything came easy to you, you wouldn't learn patience, perseverance, dedication and effort. All of these attributes make you into a better person. One that understands loss and sadness. It may not be fun going through it, but once you are on the other side, you will be better for it.
While teams and schools can control your environment and outcome, real life is not so nice. It is important to learn to take responsibility for your actions. If you fail to pay your bills on time, you will be sent to collections, no matter the excuses you have.
While it may be hard to accept the fact that you lost your championship game, it will teach you how to overcome and move on, so when you are facing another, much more serious loss, you will know how to handle it.
Learning early on that you don't get handed your successes, but rather you work for them, will help you deal with these struggles later in life.
If you never lose, it is hard to understand just how amazing winning really is. It's that feeling of knowing all your hard work has paid off and was worth it. All that effort was for a reason.
If you are just handed a trophy for no real reason, it doesn't mean as much. It can result in you not trying, not being excited or passionate about something, because there is no real reward. If something is easy, everyone would be doing it. If something is hard, it has to be worth the effort.
If you try and fail, it can help you understand if whatever you failed at is a priority. If you don't really care that you did not make it onto the swim team, perhaps you don't really care about swimming.
The reverse is true too.
If you were utterly devastated that you did not get accepted to the Air Force Academy, it is probably because you really want to learn to fly a plane, and you will find another way to achieve that goal and it will be even sweeter when you do!
In order to know when you are truly passionate about something, you need to give it effort, you need to fail once or twice and have the passion to get back up and keep going.
Failures are not a bad thing and to take the opportunity to fail away from our kids is a disservice. It is hard to see your kids fail. It is hard to see them disappointed and sad, but it is part of life.
Teaching them to overcome hardships will be a valuable tool they will use the rest of their lives. If they have a parent that cares enough to want them to experience failure, then they are lucky, because they also have you to give them a hug, reassurance and comfort, but most importantly, to help them get back up and keep trying.