It’s okay for your child to lose. Trust me, it is. I feel you, we all want our children to succeed, to do their best and come out on top. But this win at all costs attitude by parents and coaches is getting out of control. When coaches knock the ball out of a little leaguer’s hand on the mound because they are disappointed in the child’s pitching performance; when a coach challenges the legality of an eight year old’s bat when the coach’s team is down by ten runs and sends the child to the bench in tears, only to discover later that the bat is perfectly legal; and when parents are screaming curse words at the referees and the opposing team, something needs to change! And it’s our (the parents’) attitude.
Is winning the reason you really put your child in sports? Or did you hope they would get exercise, learn teamwork, and sportsmanship? If you signed your child up for any of the latter reasons, then you shouldn’t be losing your mind on the sideline because your child’s team is not winning or because your child is not a superstar. You should not be pushing for extra inning after extra inning to break the tie of a t-ball game. You should not be moaning or screaming about the umpire’s calls for days and days to anyone who will listen or all over Facebook. And you should not be allowing your child’s coach to call them stupid or scream at them, all in the name of winning.
And then there are those leagues where winning and losing never factors in. I get it. I think it’s great for children to learn the game without having to worry about the score or if they are winning. In fact, they don’t really keep score in my daughter 3-4 yr old soccer league. I think it’s great. But at some point, children need to learn that there are times when you win and times when you lose. And you will not be given an award just for showing up in life, at your job, or in college.
Losing is okay. Yes, winning is great, and your child wants to win, but I promise you it will not hurt them to lose. In fact, I’m quite confident that losing is good for your child. It’s in losing and failing that they learn to get back up, try again, and do better. It’s in losing they learn that they cannot control everything. It’s in losing they learn how to be a gracious loser and a gracious winner. It’s in losing that they learn their value isn’t in how well they perform on the field.
Most of us aren’t raising the next Josh Hamilton or Lebron James, but hopefully we are all trying to raise up children that will be responsible, kind, and decent adults. And frankly, I think letting them lose without making it seem like the end of the world accomplishes this more than you having a tantrum on the sideline. My oldest once went an entire basketball season without winning a single game. The losing provided so many opportunities for discussion, and he is not scarred for life, in fact he’s quite fine.
I’ve found that it’s much more often the parents that are upset about losing. The kids just want to play.
Fellow Sports Parent Lucy
- This is in no way a reflection on my children’s teams. We have been blessed with great coaches and parents but I have been noticing these things more and more and felt the need to speak out.
- The story of the coach and the child on the mound came from Jim Sundberg, former MLB catcher and Sr. EVP for Texas Rangers on his twitter.
- The eight year old in the other story was my son.
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