Thursday, April 14, 2011


Losing isn't an option for a certain boy in our house. There isn't any activity that can't be turned into a competition.

"Ha ha...I beat you Amaya!" Rio gloats.

"I wasn't racing Rio!" Amaya argues.

"But I still beat you..." He tells Amaya so she knows the end result is the same either way... he wins.

This is the argument after everything Rio does.  Everything is a race.  Brushing teeth, getting dressed, eating, buckling a seat belt, running to the front door, there isn't any activity that can't be turned into a competition.  And if he isn't first...forget it.  He will have a full fledged melt down.

It doesn't matter who wins or loses, it's how you play the game, is the usual line used to console upset children after a loss.

But that line means nothing to a child whose sole objective in life is to win. In fact, I'm a little more like Rio than I admit. When I hear parents say this to their children, my first thought is: that's what people who lose say to feel better. I know, I'm terrible, I can't help it.

My second thought is: it is a lie, people play games to win.  My third thought is: it matters! to the kid who lost and is upset.

While good sportsmanship is crucial, the truth is there isn't a high like winning, and there isn't a low like losing.  And that's okay. I hate losing! I've just developed skills to control my emotions better.

"It's okay to want to win, it's not okay to cry if you lose," Rio is reminded frequently.

This way I don't trivialize his desire to compete. So far it's working beautifully.


  1. I feel like we've taken out the competition in everyone wins. It's a sad thing.

  2. Sounds like my house. With 3 boys, you would think the end result wouldn't get to the hysterics and crying part but it does and their 10, 14 and 14. HAHAH Now if I could just get them to race in teh important stuff. Who has the better grades. Who took the cleanest shower. Who did their chores the best.

  3. Oh, that's right. the whole race thing. My 5 & 7 year old do it on everything. (ugh!)


  4. I just went through this with my son tonight. They were racing cub cars at Cadets tonight. He's won fastest car a couple years in row. Tonight not so fortunate. He has a tough time congratulated the winner. Sportsmanship is a hard lesson.
    Nice post. =)

  5. "that's what people who lose say to feel better"

    OMG, I love you. I am not alone. I feel the same way. My son plays baseball and I get so in to it. I have to bite my tongue to stay quite.

  6. Great post! I agree that we shouldn't take the "win" out of winning. It is a good lesson both ways - to win and lose gracefully.

    My 3 boys (5, 8, and 46) play/compete all the time. Glad to know its not just my house.

  7. I feel his pain, I can be a bad loser too and sometimes I want to cry.

  8. Great way to handle a very difficult lesson. Teaching children good sportsmanship without diminishing competitiveness.

  9. "It's okay to want to win, it's not okay to cry if you lose."

    I like that. While I don't have kids, I do work with children and teens. I also have nephews and little adoptive brothers and sisters who are competitive. Great post.

    Life, Love, and the Pursuit of Publication

  10. My older son is so not competitive, so I don't ever have to deal with the pep talks. If anything, I feel as though I push him to try to be a little more competitive (is that bad?)
    I think you're handing it quite well.

  11. That is a great picture of Rio. I really enjoyed this post