I can’t remember a single loss in 22 years of being a sports parent that either my kids or myself enjoyed. And I can’t remember any losses that my husband, who coached high school sports for 29 years, embraced or celebrated.
Losing is hard and it is not fun. But it is the most valuable struggle that your athletes will go through because, as football coach legend Bill Alexander said, “In losing, we learn a lot of football.”
What exactly can your child learn from a loss besides the fact that it’s something they’d like to avoid altogether?
1. Your child learns humility.
2. Your child learns creativity and resourcefulness: how can I do better next time?
3. Your child learns how to solve problems.
4. Your child is motivated to get stronger and better.
5. Your child learns how to accept loss, learn from it, and move on from it.
6. Your child learns how to empathize with others who lose.
7. Your child learns that they must work for success, and that things will not be handed to them.
8. Your child learns that it is also very fun to win!
When your child loses a game, let them grieve and express their emotions. Then, when the pain has worn off a bit, look for an opportunity to debrief with them. Ask questions like: What is one thing you think you can do better next time? What is the hardest part for you about losing?
However, keep this in mind too: sometimes your child does not need a debriefing conversation with you. They just may need you to give them a hug and not try so hard to make them feel better. They may not need you to help them figure out what went wrong; they just may need you to listen to their frustration. There are times when you should leave the game dissection up to the coach and let your kids deal with a loss in their own way and within their own timeline.