When B got home from work last night, C1 showed him the stamp she got on her wrist at ballet. “I was an excellent dancer, Daddy!” she exclaimed. There was B, with dreams of seeing his daughter’s name up in lights, perhaps as Odette in Swan Lake. I felt compelled to burst his bubble. “You do realise that every single child at that dance class got an ‘excellent’ stamp, don’t you?”
I’m all for positive parenting – but I reckon we’re overdoing the admiration and accolades a tad bit with our kids today. Notice how every child gets a merit award in school? How every kid gets a token gift when 'Pass the Parcel' is played at parties? There’s always a “Well done!” or a “Good job!” even when a child’s performance is just plain mediocre. We’re too afraid to let our kids get hurt, make mistakes, or *gasp* fail at something. No wonder they have meltdowns and breakdowns when reality bites them in the bum.
I’m guilty too. Ever so often, B and C1 have a race from the car to the front door. I’m always chiding B to let C1 win. “Let her come first,” I persuade B in Hindi so that C1 can’t understand what we’re saying. It gives her so much enjoyment. But Caitlyn is pretty cued in and methinks she will soon reason that if Daddy’s not bringing his A-game to the table, so why should she make the effort?
So from now on, I’m going to teach the kids the truth behind the adage: ‘It’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game.’ The importance of learning from your mistakes, trying your best, and, if it comes to it, being a graceful loser. In the words of basketball legend Michael Jordan, “I have failed many times, and that’s why I am a success”.
In ten years, I’m sure C1 will be beating the pants off B in that race to the front door – and she’ll be winning fair and square. In the meanwhile, I better look into enrolling her for some team sport. Basketball, perhaps?
What are your views on teaching children about winning and losing?