One of the news items in our local school district is a discussion on whether class rankings will be used. This potential change is another step on the road to avoiding hurting the feelings of our children. Instead of looking at the positive aspects of giving recognition to success, we look at the pain failure can cause. Instead of accepting that we have winners and losers, we try to avoid keeping score. Much like sports where we decide not to keep score, is this trend going to kill the competitive spirit?
Life is Full of Winners and Losers
Whether we call our kids winners or losers or not, they still exist. Anyone involved in youth sports knows the kids keep score in any case. Granted, they may be way off on what the actual score is, but they “know” the score. When our children get further along in life, we cannot protect our children from this concept. Everyone does not get the job of their dreams, we do not all have perfect spouses, and our kids are not trouble-free. We can remove labels like winners and losers, but that does not eliminate the situation.
Losers Can Overcome
The biggest problem I have with shielding children from names like “failure” and “loser” is that it treats those things as worse than they are. Lack of success, by any name, is not a permanent situation. In fact, when you look at some of the greatest victories throughout history, there were a lot of failures before the big win. Even the “Miracle On Ice” U.S. Olympic Hockey team lost to the Russian team a few days before their historic win. Instead of trying to protect a child from the sting of defeat by pretending it did not happen, be positive. Help your child see that they can make corrections to avoid defeat the next time.
Failure Leads to Success
When we do not allow for failure, then we do not allow for advancement. Part of our nature is that we learn from our mistakes. Better yet, a loss can trigger creativity. Failure is part of the story of nearly every invention. We are not guaranteed to learn from our mistakes. However, treating mistakes as success will all but guarantee continued failure.
The bottom line is that we should focus on the ability to overcome instead of the agony of defeat. Just like a certain song lyric, tell the kids to shake it off and help them see where their incredible success is just around the corner.