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Winners and Losers: What to Teach the Grandkids

The Summer Olympic competitions for 2016 are now recorded in the sports records and Ask Granny has been thinking about winners and losers. We see winners who, after years of training, finally achieve their goal: Olympic gold. They are overwhelmed with joy. We see those who worked just as hard come in fourth which means no medal to take home after all that work. What do they take away from the experience?

We see winners who manage their win with grace and strength and those who seem overwhelmed by the circumstance and sink to lows in personal behavior. What is the lesson here? We see those who suffer injury and loss when they are so close to a medal they can taste it. What will they take home with them?

What does it mean to be a winner? A loser? What should we teach our grandkids?

Grandparents, we can have a huge impact on the values and character we build into our grandkids lives. The stories we tell and the ways in which we encourage them will stay with them for life. So what should we endeavor to pass on? What will help them in those landmark moments when they’re either swept away by joy or disappointment? What will stand them in good stead in future years?

Three Rules for Winners

When teachers, coaches and other leaders teach children a new skill, they have to teach the necessity of making mistakes. No one ever learned a new skill without first failing to do it right. The fear of making mistakes will inhibit growth. It will wipe out the opportunity to make progress toward any goal.

Rule # 1    To be a winner, you have to be willing to make mistakes and keep going.

From the smallest toddler soccer team to the most prestigious classic competitors, every sports participant learns what it feels like to both win and lose. The best coaches manage to build teamwork into their programs so that it is never just about an individual player. A team has goals, works hard toward them and then either wins or loses. It’s possible to lose a game but still have performed well. It’s possible to win without doing one’s best. There are multiple lessons in a lifetime of playing, giving one’s best effort and then accepting the results.

Rule #2    Being a winner means knowing how to both win and lose. It means taking joy in the process and learning to be part of something bigger than oneself.

In the case of those Olympic contestants who didn’t come in first, second or third, what do you suppose they took away from the games? Did they count the experience a loss because they didn’t win a medal? I don’t think so. I would imagine they count themselves privileged to even attend the games and compete with the best athletes in the world. They are part of a “club” that most people only dream about. Did they win? No. Are they winners? Definitely, yes.

Rule #3    Winning is about more than numbers on a scorecard or medals around the neck. It’s about character, hard work, and giving one’s best effort no matter the outcome.

There is a lot more to say about winning and losing. You’ll have personal stories to tell your grandchildren—times you won and times you lost. Talent is a wonderful thing to possess. Hard work can boost moderate skills. And those who just aren’t good at sporting events may be winners in a myriad of other life skills.

Teach your grandkids they’re winners in your eyes. And they don’t have to win any medals to earn your love and acceptance.

Here are some books you might want to purchase or check out at a local library. Each one teaches about some facet of being a winner or loser.

For younger children:

Liam Wins the Game, Sometimes: A Story about Losing with Grace by Jane Whelen Banks

Excellent Erma by Sally Warner

Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns About Sportsmanship by Howard Binkow

For Older Children:

Good Sports: Winning, Losing and Everything in Between by Therese Kauchak

Body Check by Matt Christopher

Shoot-Out: Mike Lupicka’s Comeback Kids by Mike Lupicka

Hot Hand by Mike Lupicka

Stephen Curry: The Boy Who Never Gave Up by Anthony Curcio