Education · Family Life · Fitness · Health

Should Kids Be Allowed To Lose?

It’s that time of year again- cue the rain or scorching heat- schools around the UK are gearing up for Sports Day! That one day of the year that seems to cause so much controversy about winning and losing, where dad’s around the country pull hamstrings and mum’s compete in flip-flops. The competitive spirit is rife among the parents as we are scowled at by the ‘every one’s a winner’ and the ‘it’s not the winning, it’s the taking part that counts’ crowds. Who are they kidding? It’s all about the winning! We all want to win in what ever we do and if we don’t, then what is the point in trying? Why would anyone bother practicing to be the best at something only to be told that it’s not fair to have a winner? After all, if no one wins on sports day, what is the incentive to run faster or jump higher?

Buzymum - Should kids be allowed to lose?

What about the kids who only excel in sport and not in academics? Why should these kids have their ‘moment to shine’ taken away when they spend the rest of their school life struggling in the lower maths set? Surely, we should be celebrating sporting talent as much as academic prowess.

My kids are ultra competitive and I can safely say, “I blame the parents!” We both have sporting backgrounds and competed nationally, in our sports. Though we really don’t mind which sport they choose, we have given our children ample opportunity to find, and participate in sport and openly encourage competitiveness in their attitude towards it. To be honest, the competitive streak runs through our everyday life, with most bed times going something like this:

Me: “Upstairs please, it’s pajama time!”

The boy: “No”

Me: “Come on, you’ve had an extra 5 minutes, let’s go.”

The Boy: “But it’s still light outside……..”

Daddy: “I’m gonna win!”

The Boy: Up the stairs like lightning

But when it comes to sporting competition, though I think it healthy to want to win, our children also need to be able to lose with grace. A hard lesson, but a very important one, after all, as adults, we regularly ‘lose’! There really aren’t that many big winners in life and a great way to learn, is to turn a failure around. Of course, it’s not a great feeling when you lose and you don’t want your kids to go through that, but it’s all about bringing a positive out of a negative and motivating an improvement.

Lou came 6th in her last gymnastics competition, though she was called up for this position, to her, she’d lost and she had a face like thunder! After the presentation, she stomped around and nothing I could say would snap her out of it, so I left her to stew for a while. Once she was calm, we looked back at the video of her performance and chatted things through. She pointed out what had gone wrong and how she could improve while I praised the fantastic bits of the performance. I told her how proud I was of her and that, with a bit more practice, she could medal next time. By then, her friend had finished her section of competition and won the age group! I fully expected this to tip Lou over the edge and re-start a jealousy-fuelled paddy, but I needn’t have worried as Lou raced up to her training-buddy and sincerely congratulated her saying “I’m so proud of you!” I was so impressed with her mature attitude that it almost brought a tear to my eye. That afternoon, she completed her gymnastics home-conditioning program five times through, determined to improve her next performance!!

Ooh and just to finish this off, all you new parents, who don’t yet know the protocols of children’s party games, allow me to enlighten you! The rules have changed since we were attending these functions, so please take note:

  • No one loses.
  • When playing musical bumps/ chairs/ statues being ‘out’ is akin to winning and you give a prize (yes, to every child!)
  • Pass-the-parcel must have enough layers for every single child to unwrap one (you may need several parcels!). You must therefore, be paying attention to ensure the music stops on every child during the game. You guessed it- each layer has a prize! It is also customary for the birthday child to win the main prize, even though they have just been given 30 or so, presents!! They cannot possible lose on their birthday!Buzymum - Playing pass-the-parcel- everyone's a winner!!
  • You need lots of prizes.
  • Everyone is a winner!! Every time!!

How do you feel about our ‘everyone’s a winner’ culture? Do you think we should shelter our kids from failure and only introduce the concept later on? Or, do you think competition should be encouraged from an early age? Should Kids Be Allowed To Lose?

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34 thoughts on “Should Kids Be Allowed To Lose?

  1. Oh, this sounds so familiar! My 3 year old us CRAZY competitive and we are currently working on helping her learn to lose. Unfortunately though however hard I try, I just can’t seem to beat her at snakes and ladders though!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Learning to lose is far more important than winning. Denying children the lessons of losing is part of the reason our society is as horked as it is: everyone thinks he deserves to win and when it doesn’t happen (as it so often doesn’t in life), he gets upset and has a fit.

    Statistically we’re going to lose more often than win. We’re going to fail, often many times, before we succeed. And if we never teach our children that failure and losing isn’t the end of the story but just another chapter of it, they’ll never know that.

    It’s not fun to lose, but I think that learning that lesson is important. Experiencing the failures is what make winning so sweet.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’ve not actually considered this properly before… The comment above does raise a very good point here. We need to learn how to be gracious winners but also losers also, as life is full of wins and losses aplenty. Great post #puddinglove

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Life isn’t about winning all the time and receiving prizes – I think this is a lesson that needs to be learned at an early age. To let children believe they will always be a winner not only leads to a lack of ambition but encourages a sense of entitlement that will result in a sharp shock when they enter the ‘real world’. We all have our individual talents and, as you say, it is important that children are given their chance to shine.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Mine is ultra competitive also. We try and teach her that there are going to be some things that she is better at than others and that sometimes she has to be OK losing. It can be hard because you really do have to be careful with their self esteem, even at this young an age. There is a balance there that needs to be found. Having everyone win certainly doesn’t seem very balanced #familyfun

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I think a bit of healthy competition never did anyone any harm and of course everyone wants to win, but i was always raised to believe that it’s not the winning that counts, it’s the taking part – and that’s something i instill into my own children now. I think it’s an important lesson for children to learn because they need to understand that they simply can’t win at everything. x

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Fab Sonia! I’m not a fan of the everyone’s a winner thing, because, they’re not… Ha. We’re pretty competitive and if our two excel in something like sport then they need to be praised. I think I’m still working on losing gracefully myself 😉 xx

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love your points about learning to lose graciously – your daughter sounds like she dealt with that amazingly. Makes her a winner! In essence I don’t agree with everyone’s a winner culture but I also think sport is put on a huge pedestal without perspective sometimes – I guess that’s a different point though. Lovely and interesting read! #fortheloveofBLOG

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Everyone’s a winner can only set kids a false impression of how life works. If they are not a little competitive will they strive to better themselves.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. We have yet to do birthday parties but the thought that every child has to win every time is awful – that’s no how life works! Think there will be some disappointed children at our parties… I totally agree with competitiveness, not nastiness, but children should want to win and they should be proud when they do.One of life’s great lessons is coming to terms with losing, because no wins all the time. Thanks for linking this fab post #PuddingLove

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I totally agree about the birthday party bit as I do thinks it’s a bit ridiculous. Although I personally don’t think that winning is the most important thing, taking part and trying your hardest is. With everything, not just sport. xo

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Yes, I agree. When I was a kid you had winners and losers and I have emerged fine. I hope! I think it is really important skill to learn, how to be a gracious winner and also to accept that you can’t always win. I have to say I loathe what has happened to pass the parcel. What genius invented that!! It should be one present, that is the whole point! 🙂 I could rant so I am going to stop now!! #bigpinklink

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I think we are all competitive to a degree aren’t we? I mean who wants to loose, not me, but I am also happy for others to win and be successful. I remember many a pass the parcel game as a kid hoping desperately to win and not winning, but I survived and I am sure kids today can survive too. Kids need to understand the if they want to win they have to put in the effort and hard work, I mean that is how life works so they should learn to cope with that from a young age.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Wow, your daughter did brilliantly with her friend’s victory. You must have been super proud.
    I am fiercely competitive with things I know I am good at, but have a more ‘taking part’ attitude with other activities. I guess childhood is the time when you should be working out which activities fit in to which category for you, as far as I’m concerned! Not everyone should win, otherwise there’s no value in winning at all.
    x Alice


    1. Thanks, yes I was proud of her! Totally agree, we want our kids to still participate in things and feel a reason to get better at but not refuse to do it if they struggle! All very tricky!! xx

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Me and my hubby aren’t competitive at all, and so our kids aren’t either. I don’t agree on letting them win everything, that isn’t life. I try to teach them that even if they don’t win or do well at something that they are really good at something else instead. Bless your little girl at doing well at gym but also congratulating her friend when she did better. Proper team spirit.


  16. This is a really interesting post. I absolutely agree that we should learn to lose graciously, and we have to teach our children that skill. Your daughter’s response at gymnastics is a really good one – losing has made her more determined to succeed. I also totally agree with your comment that Sports Day is the one day in the school year where the sport (but sometimes not so academic) children can really shine.
    I wonder, though, in the Pass/Fail climate in schools at the moment (especially primary schools) how that will affect our sense of winning and losing? #BigPinkLink

    Liked by 1 person

  17. It seems to me like you have a brilliant attitude to winning and losing. My two are still tiny so I haven’t given much thought to it (although my eldest always seems to “win” when I race her anywhere, regardless of whether she comes first or not?) I think you’re right though in that winning and losing is all just part of a life lesson. Surely we need to learn to succeed and to strive for what we want to achieve? We also need to learn how to deal with it when we don’t get the result that we were hoping for. I think your daughter will have learned and developed so much from the way that you handled the situation. I’m hope to take a leaf out of your book.
    Thanks for linking up with #fartglitter x

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I can’t cope with the ridiculousness that’s taken over the world!! My children aren’t at school yet, and when our friends little boy started school, I couldn’t believe it when they said that the school have, under no circumstances, losers. Children need this, they need to have the chance to win, and to feel what it’s like to be the best, and to accept losing graciously, and be happy for the winner-like your daughter was! Surely they’ll just grow up entitled adults with no concept of how to live in the real world, if they’re used to everything going their way? I’ve heard about the children’s parties, and I won’t be doing this! My friend recently had a party, and there were mainly 2-3 year olds there. She had winners for all the games, and only one pass the parcel prize-which didn’t go to her child! We all agreed that’s how all our future parties would go down!!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Totally agree, children need to learn sometimes you win sometimes you loose. But life is much more than that. I think everyone should get treats at parties but no everyone can win, totally defeats the object, children are not silly, they never appreciate a prize for all game, they realise they haven’t won! #BloggersClubUK

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I think that the fact that kids hate losing so much shows us how important it is for them to experience it and learn to deal with it, and conversely it also allows a child who has truly achieved something to celebrate that 🙂


  21. I think its is important to praise winners, but it is also very important to encourage losers. My father would always try very hard to beat my sister and I when playing games and I can remember feeling quite despondent. Has this made me the competitive person I am today,…. maybe. #puddinglove


  22. I’m somewhere inbetween I think. It’s true that in real life winning matters not just the taking part but if you have a child who isn’t winning at anything much then this is a hard lesson to learn. In certain situations like parties I think it doesn’t hurt to let everyone win a little. Thought provoking piece though! Thanks for sharing at #fortheloveofBLOG x


  23. I’m in the middle. I don’t think it is realistic to teach children everyone must win all the time. & I do think they need to know how to lose with grace. I also suspect that, somewhat counter-productively, making them all win all the time actually teaches them the same as ultra-competitiveness does: that the most important thing is that you must win. Surely what we actually need to teach is that it is okay & not that big a deal to lose. That in most things there are only a couple of winners, so most people are technically ‘losers’, & that is fine & normal.

    I’m not, however, a fan of over-competitiveness either, especially not for little children. They should be having fun. So for sports days at infant school I do see the point of no competition rules, as it really isn’t a demonstration of athletic ability anyway & there is time for that – I don’t think it needs to be taken too seriously. At secondary school, I agree with you – it should be an opportunity for kids whose abilities are in sports to show their talents. But I then believe kids who are not into that should not have to participate & be made to feel bad. It is fine then for it to be competition I believe, but for those who want to compete. I do believe that really extreme competitiveness can ultimately lead to unhappiness – no one can win all the time, so feeling like you need to can be unhealthy I think. &, while I don’t mind a bit of competitiveness, I object to ruthlessness.

    I don’t really see the need to be making party games an everybody wins all the time thing. I actually think that children should be able to see the joy in parties without needing to win, & that it is more special & exciting to them to win knowing that it is not a guarantee. I thought the point of party bags was so that everyone got something, regardless of whether they won any games! #BloggerClubUK


  24. I think the “everyone’s a winner” attitude is actually doing children a disservice. In real life, no one praises you just for showing up, you actually have to achieve something. Too many children are being led to believe you don’t have to try because you get a prize anyway.
    At a party is one thing (although I think it’s unnecessary at least its in an environment where its about fun not achieving), but the sports thing bothers me. Even the kids know getting a prize for taking part rather than winning isn’t right. I actually think it’s a little patronizing to be honest.
    Thanks for linking up to #BloggerClubUK 🙂


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