Learning how to lose

by mssinglemama on June 29, 2010

Benjamin collapsed into a heap in the grass seconds after John Bear scored a goal.

John and I were letting him win about 80% of the time and giving him a tough fight for the other 20%. After goals Benjamin would yell victoriously, “Benjamin wins again!” And during losing streaks he would cry out, whine, and scream – anything to get us to leave him alone and let him have the ball.

This wasn’t the first time I noticed my son’s severe aversion to losing.

This trait of his, I have decided, is my doing. I’ve always let him win, wanting to avoid a tantrum or because I just like to seem him excited. But now that he’s four, a big boy in his own right, and clearly able to “get over it” – so I haven’t been so easy on him.

I refused to let him cheat at Candyland a few weeks ago and now this soccer match. No more Ms. Nice Mommy. But, as he laid there in the grass sobbing I lifted him up into a hug and said, “Let me tell you something, babe.”

He looked up at me through tear filled eyes, “What?”

“It’s okay to lose.”

“But, I don’t want to lose.”

“I know, you don’t. But everyone loses sometimes. Even Mommy loses.”

A look of wonder filled his eyes and than I realized this aversion to losing may not be so far from the tree. Then I told him what I tell myself when I lose, after I pick myself back up and dust myself off.

“And, do you know what I say?”


“Let me try that again!”

Fortunately, for just about all of this, there are always second chances.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Glenda June 30, 2010 at 1:20 pm

That is so true. There is 2nd chances. If you don’t succeed the first time don’t ever give up…keep trying. You’re such a good mommy… Benjamin will get it eventually.


Canadian Bald Guy June 30, 2010 at 8:18 pm

My daughter is the same way and she’s now 11. It’s just something that kids need to learn over time.


Pedro January 29, 2015 at 2:29 am

Fantastic! I just found Birdcalls Radio a few months ago and have been going thru the avrihces.I will love downloading them to my IPod so i can listen on my daily commute!


Erin June 30, 2010 at 9:13 pm

I hate losing as well, and have found I’ve instilled this competitive spirit into my daughter. “I’ll beat you to the car!” and off she runs and jumps into her carseat. She does not like losing either, and will pretend she wasn’t competing when she does lose. I’m glad to see we’re not the only ones. 🙂

Love this blog! LOVE it!! Thanks for the encouragement, I attribute a great part of my healing from this whole ordeal to reading your current and past posts. You don’t know the disappointment I get when the post has been removed. Thanks again!


Jenny July 1, 2010 at 10:26 pm

Just recently finished reading the book “Nurture Shock.” It was quite an eye opener on how we raise our children. The authors’ research found that when we always praise our kids, let them win, etc., when they’re older and face a challenge they shut down because they automatically assume that everything should be easy. Children whose parents let them fail and encouraged them to try again did keep trying when they were challenged later on in life. It’s a fascinating book.


Ms. Single Mama July 2, 2010 at 9:24 am

Oooooh… will definitely check that one out. Thanks for sharing Jenny.


Alison July 2, 2010 at 5:13 pm

There’s a great song by Disney’s “Imagination Movers” called “Try Again” that my 5 year old loves. He was just like Benjamin, getting frustrated if he wasn’t the winner. Don’t know if the song helps him more or me more, but it has a great message.


Poppy July 2, 2010 at 9:51 pm

Good for you. Very important lesson to learn and one my son never ‘got’. As a result he refused for years to be involved in organized sports. He was just that competitive 🙁 So while the other kids were learning important lessons in sports he stuck to the solitary ones (archery for one..)

Have not visited in awhile, you all look great and Benjamin so much bigger!


Traci S. Campbell July 6, 2010 at 2:52 pm

I really enjoyed this post…and here is the reason why: While I eventually learned that it is okay to lose and we ALL lose at something at some point in our lives, I did not necessarily learn this from my own mom. She was tough and wanted the best from me always. Well, all parents want this ultimately. But, I was afraid to fail and fall on my face…moreso…because of what I thought she’d think of me! I am sooo glad that you are teaching your son not to fear a temporary failure…but to accept it and learn from it. He will be a better man as a result. Great post! 🙂


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