View Full Version : Losing

12-04-2015, 01:45 AM
DD ran for treasurer in her 4-H group this evening (at my urging) and lost. Afterward, the new treasurer's mom approached me and, with deep-felt emotion and hangdog expression, said, "I'm sorry." Puzzled, I replied, "Sorry?" And she came back with, "Yes, I'm so sorry my son won...we really didn't expect him to win." Not too sure what to say, I told her the truth. "Please don't apologize...I'm glad she didn't win. Not that she couldn't have done the job cause she could have. I'm just glad she had a really good opportunity to learn what it means to lose and how to lose well." The woman looked horrified. As though she was thinking 'What kind of monster wants their kid to lose at something an be crushed?'

When she just continued to stare at me dumbfounded, I kept going with, "It's really important that DD learns that things aren't always going to go her way, that they won't be easy, and that you just have to learn from it and move on. It's a life lesson." She just mumbled, "I'm still sorry." Then she drifted away.

It left me feeling like Mommy Dearest.

So, how do you feel about losing?

12-04-2015, 02:22 AM
I picked the give them a hug and help them find the next challenge.

Ours might be a little more protracted then that. The next challenge might be further away, as DS does not take losing well. He is getting better. But he needs to learn how to win graciously too. We can play board games and he is learning that sometimes you win and sometimes not. It is the luck of the draw and not always being an effective player.

I think understanding even through you might work hard, but still not get something is something to learn. I try to mitigate that, a little, but with a kid like DS who expects perfection from the first attempt, it is a challenge to teach him that effort too matters. But I want him to understand that if you work hard, you might also get what you aim for. That failure is needed for success. It is kind of like that quote that is attributed to Edison: It is not 1000 failures, it is 1000 ways that it did not work. Failure is required for growth.

12-04-2015, 04:43 AM
I picked "suck it up chili dog" because mine is 6. He loses at video games and sometimes still has a meltdown (he's playing against Daddy what does he expect!?!). When he plays with other kids, we are teaching him to win as gracefully as he loses. His "I won" dance however, is hilarious, but we tell him that it's not nice to do the "I won" dance in front of someone who lost. He's getting it. He hates losing, but we tell him if he can't accept potentially losing, then he can't play at all. It's a process, but for an only child, who is just 6, he's doing fairly well with it.

However, i HATE parents that let their kids gloat that they won. Drives me crazy.

12-04-2015, 04:48 AM
There was a competition when Elle was 8.....the outcome of which...was legendary.

HUGE proud Mom brag on this one:)

There was a frog jumping competition at the county fair advertised in the kid's room at the library. The idea was to put all the frogs in a small central circle...and urge them to jump out of a large exterior circle without touching them...crossing a distance of 15 feet or so. The frog who jumped out of the outer circle first, won.

So, Elle caught dozens of frogs. She made her own test arena, and tested the frogs for speed and responsiveness. You'd think the best frogs would be large bullfrogs, but nope, they kinda just sit there and don't herd very well. It's the little leopard frogs who are lightning fast and can be fairly accurately herded around obstacles.

Anyway, she did a week's worth of testing and found the fasted, most directable frog...and created this fantastic little habitat for him outside with a little puddle to swim in and things to hide under.

She made a "frog carrier" that had wet sod from the pond bank, and a pan of water to swim in. She put a ton of thought into humidity and temperature and things that could reduce stress.

And we went to the fair.

When we got to the frog competition, Elle and her frog were registered, she got a number pinned to her back, and was told to wait with kids ages 7-10.

A woman drew circles with chalk on sunshiny hot concrete. No one bothered to run a hose over it to cool it. I told the lady in charge that they should wet the pavement to protect the frogs from getting burned. No one listened. I was pissed.

They called the first round of kids up...."kids up to six years old". They put frogs on that hot pavement...and some of the little kids were too excited to watch what they were doing and stepped on each other's frogs. Broken backs, guts, the works. OMG...I was SEETHING.

Then, they called Elle's group. She had tears in her eyes and said, "I don't want to do this. He's gonna get squished."

And I could tell she was heartbroken, because she'd worked SO hard. She desperately wanted to show people how fast she and her frog were, and explain her ideas about her habitat and the different things she'd tried to motivate and turn the frogs. She wanted it SO BADLY. She'd done the research, you know? Put hours into this project.

And in spite of all of that...she thought of her frog's welfare first. She wouldn't risk him being harmed.

I don't think I've ever been prouder of her. She made a tough choice...and the right choice.

We took her frog home and released him back into the pond. He seemed pretty happy to be done with his adventure.

Couple of years later, after stewing over it whenever the frog contest was posted annually, Elle asked me who she could write a letter to about the frog contest.

I said, "Well, you could write to the official in charge of the fair. Or you could ask someone else to help you make your case. Frogs are wildlife, right? Who looks out for wildlife?"

She'd been to biology camp, so she phoned the local biological station and explained the situation. They advised that she could ask a local conservation group for help, or the Humane Society, or the DNR.

In the end, Elle wrote a letter to both the local and state Department of Natural Resources about her experience at the fair, and asked that they approach the people in charge of the event about making it safer for the frogs, since frog numbers were diminishing in the wild.

A shit storm rained down upon the county fair over the frog contest after Elle's letter, and she was happy to provide witness testimony of having seen frogs burned and crushed at the contest in a previous year.

After the DNR banned the contest permanently, Elle was interviewed by a local news station about her reason for wanting the frog contest shut down.

"I didn't want it shut down. I just wanted it to be safe for the frogs. Frog populations are decreasing. They need people in charge with more knowledge if they're going to have a contest like that."

The reporter was amused by her seriousness, and said, "It sounds like you have a lot of *knowledge* about frogs."

To which a world-weary ten year old Elle replied, "Not letting little kids step on them and crush them isn't rocket science."

She was serious as a heart attack. Formal. And shook the reporter's hand.

They played that quote on the local news over and over. The reporters presenting the story laughed and said, "I love that kid."

Sometimes winning...isn't getting the trophy or the ribbon.

12-04-2015, 05:12 AM
CM, that's a win. For Elle, for that frog, for FUTURE frogs!

And I get that the under 6 crowd gets excitable, but SQUISHING FROGS?!?! And they did nothing? the parents did nothing? Yeah, now i remember why I'm not fond of other kids.

12-04-2015, 05:15 AM
I know someone (not a homeschooler) who would pick the first choice. Her kids are, not in order:

very rude unless they win (i.e., friends go say, "You played really well." child: Pure silence without even looking at teamate)
look like they might not get dinner if they lose
extra cheerful and talkative when they do win
not supportive of teamates in multiple sports (I have heard from other parents that we know mutually.)
have actually said out loud, "I don't have fun just playing. I only have fun if I win."

Sigh. The kids could be really sweet if the Mom stopped pressuring them and staring daggers every time they make a mistake.

12-04-2015, 06:10 AM
Aselvarial...in the little kid's defense...it was more like they were cheering on their own frog really enthusiastically...and didn't realize they were hopping up on down on someone else's frog. :(

Wasn't intentional. Many parents were really put off by how lousy the contest was put together. One poor kid got bumped into, fell to his knees and squashed his own frog. Bleh. Stuff of nightmares.

If they'd run four frogs at a time and hosed the pavement until it was cool, it could have been safely do-able. But they had like...20...at the same time and it was just too crowded. They could even have dumped a cooler of ice water out there and pushed it around with a broom.

I'm sure many of those poor frogs who avoided the squashings....died anyway of infections from burned bellies after the fact.

It pissed a lot of families off. Elle wasn't the only kid to balk about putting their frog in harm's way.

Lady who was running it was a ding-bat.

12-04-2015, 09:56 AM
CrazyMom, your story is fantastic, I read it in one breath, and your daughter is wonderful. She was the real winner there. Thanks for sharing!
And I learnt a new word - ding-bat))

My DS can't lose at all. He is 8 and all explanations help very little. But my DH said, that he learnt to lose when he was much older that 8 )) So, everything has it's own time. And think we just should take the life as it is, losing is a part of it, as winning too. And for the children the same. Give them a hug ))

12-04-2015, 10:39 AM
I picked the hug one. Kids don't need to win at everything. The whole trophy-for-doing-squat thing bothers me. Like, it's not enough to just participate and have fun. Everyone has to be a winner, too.

Maybe the other mom wanted you to take the job, Carolyn? She could have been hoping her kid would lose, hahaha.

It's no surprise that kids don't know how to lose. They're rewarded as "winners" for every non-competitive thing.

DS got a trophy for playing tball last year. Um, they don't even keep score. He spent the season doing clay angels on the pitchers mound. The latest is his gymnastics place is having a showcase. First of all, it's $28 to participate and another $4 each to watch, um no. Then the coach goes, "If you come you'll get a trophy!" Blah. No thanks.

12-04-2015, 01:07 PM
I kind of picked number #3 'cause I love the phrase, "Suck it up, Chili Dog." We always say 'Buttercup." But we are very much a walk-it-off type of household.

My 7th grade son recently participated in his first independent wrestling meet and everyone got a participation medal. He was the first to make fun of it. He didn't need a prize to be there. Being there was reward in of itself: getting to play a sport he loves, having his dad there helping him. Even his one loss was a reward as the opposing wrestler was very good and he held his own.

12-04-2015, 01:10 PM
I'm actually really pleased that my daughter has been involved in musical theatre over the last few years, because she has had to audition several times. Sometimes she gets a part and sometimes she doesn't. She can see that there are a lot of talented hard-working people who all want a chance to participate. She's also learned that sometimes people get a part because they have the right "look" (e.g. short, tough, tall, willowy, etc...), not strictly because of their singing/acting ability.

My son used to be absolutely terrible at losing. Like, flip the board game and toss the pieces on the floor kind of terrible. We had to just games of any kind for a couple of years because he just could not cope. I remember trying to explain that Daddy likes playing Cribbage with Mommy even though he always loses. My poor six-year-old son was totally baffled by the concept. WHY would Daddy play if he knows he will probably lose? Strangely, I feel like the past 4 years of taekwondo have done A LOT to help him with his maturity and emotional discipline. He still doesn't like losing, he even gets a little tearful if he loses badly, but he doesn't blow up anymore, thank goodness.

12-04-2015, 01:34 PM
We are kind of a blend between "suck it up" and "give hugs and encouragement for the next challenge." Depends on how DS is responding to the loss. We have worked very hard over the years to encourage good sportsmanship, to shake hands after a game and say "Good Game, thanks for playing." DH and I often play games with him and win and he has learned it's OK to lose. He has followed his cousin's high school football team and they had a big loss at the semi-finals and he was very observant and I could see the wheels in his head spinning - and it was handled gracefully and he commented on that. He's watched his cousin win, too, and how that was handled respectfully, too. He needed to see kids behaving well in a competitive area because he's not seen much of it. The neighborhood kids that DS played with out of proximity when he was younger were hyper competitive and had little parental supervision. Some of the parents were worse than the kids about being a sore loser (and mean winner.) Most have moved away and that's not been a bad thing.

DS has yet to participate in any type of big contest or sporting event where he would win or lose in a big public (to him) way. I think he's ready it now after years of smaller lessons, and we are seeking out those opportunities.

I can't understand why the other parent of the winning candidate would apologize for her kid winning. That's odd to me. I can see coming over and saying something like your DD ran a good campaign, she was a great candidate, or something. Maybe she was worried you would be angry with her? Or your DD would be mad at her DS? Maybe she and her kid would have been devastated had he lost?

12-04-2015, 08:41 PM
I can't understand why the other parent of the winning candidate would apologize for her kid winning. That's odd to me. I can see coming over and saying something like your DD ran a good campaign, she was a great candidate, or something.

It hit me as WAY odd too, and I told DH about the incident afterward (he and DD had already headed out to the car). After DD went to bed last night, I told him what happened and asked his opinion. He was perplexed too. In the wee hours of the night (well after I'd posted the poll) it hit me: I think she felt bad because the "special needs" child (my kid) didn't win and her son did. Kinda like how someone with a neuro-typical child might feel if their child won prom king when running against kids who had Downs, ASD, CP, or CF. KWIM? When I thought of her comment in that context, THEN I got pissed. It was all, "Take your pity, sister, and shove it up your judgmental bum." My kid doesn't need ANYONE's sympathy, pity, or whatever. If it had been a bicycle race, maybe. Kid can't ride a bike well because she has a right-side weakness. Mentally, she's not even remotely weak. Gah. IDK.

We've never 'let' girl win. At anything. I've always thought it was better that she learned that people don't always win at everything. She's played tic-tac-toe against her dad for YEARS and always lost. In the beginning, her meltdowns were epic. As time went on, she learned to take it more in stride. Then they hit a year or two of constant 'draws' and an occasional win for him. Girl finally beat his backside at TTT about a month ago. I thought she was going to explode with joy, but then she got herself under control quickly and just said, "I won THAT one." Not a gloat or snark...just a statement of fact. Before we went to the meeting last night, we both warned her that her odds of winning were pretty slim. Prepped her on how to handle it if she lost. She was disappointed, but held it together extremely well for someone her age who wanted something badly IMO.

I hate that every kid gets a trophy for just showing up these days. I believe competition is a good thing. We're trying to teach her that and other concepts like 'you'll never accomplish it if you don't even try', 'there's always going to be someone bigger, better, faster, smarter, prettier, etc...get over it', and 'sometimes life just sucks...deal with it and move on'. It was an excellent opportunity for her to learn many things last night. Losing was just one of them. She spent the last month writing her own speech, creating her own presentation (complete with posted, easel and pointer), and creating tchotchkes to give out. She rehearsed the speech in front of us and in front of the mirror repeatedly until she had it down pat. It was her second public speaking (first was her 4H presentation for her robotics project) effort and I thought she honestly kicked butt. And I don't compliment lightly; I'm more prone to critique then hug. She did really well...a couple of pauses cause she was interrupted and it made her lose her track briefly...but she delivered it while looking at all the kids, motioning toward her poster, and maintaining her composure. The other two kids read straight from their pieces of paper, never looked at the other kids, and it was all done in that flat, robotic, this-is-my-first-book-report voice. You know the one. We ALL had it at that age.

When we were safely at home, out of ear shot, we chatted about the outcome, how she was feeling, and what she could do in the future to improve her chances of winning. I told her the truth: the kid who won got it because his older sister is popular with the group and she campaigned heavily for him prior to the election. It probably made a huge difference. DD, OTOH, rarely makes an effort to engage the other kids on anything they're interested in. She's just not popular. And I explained that sometimes, especially in elections, it isn't about who the most qualified candidate is...it's about who's the friendliest, the prettiest, the funniest, or something that has nothing at all to do with the job. Her response? "Well that's just wrong and it's really stupid." All I could do was laugh and say, "Welcome to politics, girl."

Thanks for the feedback. I'm feeling less Mommy Dearest now, but I'm feeling like I need to confront either this mom or the 4H leader. :-/

12-05-2015, 01:50 PM
I'm just thinking about the idea of "letting the kids win" when playing board games or card games. I do that all the time, even with my husband. There are some games that I'm really good at, and it's kind of boring to always be ahead. I still like to play the game, but I'll let myself fall behind a little so that I have to work hard to catch up. It's kind of a "game within the game." I think it's fine to do it with kids, because we're unevenly matched, and I still want them to play the games and we can both have fun.

It's not really fine to do with my husband because he got really offended one time when I mentioned it to him, but what he doesn't know doesn't hurt him.

I'm also willing to change the rules of a game to make it more interesting, more evenly-matched, faster-paced, or to take out the negative or "attack" parts of the game. We do it all the time.

12-05-2015, 03:12 PM
I do this with chess, when I play with DS. I don't strategize, I just move my pieces around without planning out my moves. Or I plan out my moves without considering what DS will do, just to see what happens. We end up in a tie more often. He still has to work at it.

12-05-2015, 06:08 PM
Avalon, my parents never let us win at board games. I think one of the biggest memories I have as a kid is the first time I won Scrabble against my mom (who always won) or Monopoly against my dad (who also always won). Granted, I'm not a particularly competitive person so that may help.