My photo
Sydney, Australia
My musings and meanderings on childhood - mine juxtaposed with that of my kids'. Everyday incidents and images from our life in Sydney turn my thoughts towards my own wonder years growing up in Bandra, Bombay, India.

16 June 2011

Win-win Situation

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?


  1. Dilbert's Words of Wisdom
    1. I can please only one person per day. Today is not your day. Tomorrow's not looking good either.
    2. I love deadlines. I especially love the swooshing sound they make as they go flying by.
    3. Tell me what you need, and I'll tell you how to get along without it.
    4. Accept that some days you're the pigeon, and some days you're the statue.
    5. Needing someone is like needing a parachute. If he isn't there the first time you need him, chances are you won't be needing him again.
    6. I don't have an attitude problem. You have a perception problem.
    7. On the keyboard of life, always keep one finger on the escape key.
    8. I don't suffer from stress - I'm a carrier...
    9. Everybody is somebody else's weirdo...
    10. Never argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level then beat you with experience.
    The Six Phases of a Project

    1. Enthusiasm
    2. Disillusionment
    3. Panic
    4. Search for the guilty
    5. Punishment of the innocent
    6. Praise and honour for the non-participants

  2. Great write up Alison and very timely points.
    I'm with you 100% on this one and I think teaching is our role here. How can they learn to get better without proper feedback? Still they will need encouragement to go with that, got to find the balance.


Would love to hear from you, so go ahead and post a comment here!