Chances are you took many losses while becoming the man you are today, but watching your kids catch an L isn’t always the easiest.
My oldest son recently took not one but two back-to-back Ls in basketball like his name was Meek Mill! These were two huge championship games in competitive basketball leagues and I won’t lie, losing both hurt even if we got second place in both leagues.
Even though I was the coach and was super upset I couldn’t show that to the kids. See, us dads get all caught up in our feelings forgetting that our kids are lost in their feelings. They need someone strong by them and they need to be able to vent or cry as needed!
So your kid took losing hard, what are you going to do about it now?
Are you going to cry with them, blame someone else, fight the ref or are you going to step your game up and help them overcome that L?
When my kids catch a loss I am reminded of these 3 things below!
Chill, Pops. Set the Example
The main thing we dads must always remember is that we are our kid’s most important example. Dads will do anything for their kids but we sometimes take it over board, especially after a major loss. We are ready to defend our kids actions, ready to kill for them but often forget that they are already there, taking it all in.
If you start complaining about playing time or that the game was rigged against your child, guess what? Your child will do the same. Take it from me there is nothing worse than a complaining parent, especially a dad.
After losing at something, take a second to think about your actions and who they ultimately will hurt. We all want are kids to be great, but greatness doesn’t happen overnight and it’s never possible if all they do is complain about a loss.
Take the time to explain that sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. Taking a loss doesn’t mean that they are losers; it means someone else was better that day. Tell them that they are dope and are winners in your book at all times simply by trying.
Hold that L and Learn from It
They say losing is the ultimate truth serum and they are not lying.
We tell our kids how great they are all the time, but there will come a time when they will lose. They will be upset. They might even cry, but a loss isn’t the end of the world. A loss gives us an opportunity to learn about the things we can do to become better.
For example, when my son lost both his championship games we had a REAL conversation on what went wrong and what he could have done to get better.
There was no need to place the blame on his team, especially since the game was over. We focused on his game. We spoke about him not being as aggressive as he could. We also spoke about his lack of leadership and sense of urgency during the game. The team lost, but he contributed to that loss by not playing to his fullest potential.
He didn’t do his best that day and, after a while, he realized it. Did he still complain about everyone else? You better believe it; the blame game was in full effect!
No matter how bad the losses, kids need to learn they still have to show up for the next game. They will have to perform even better if they don’t want to catch another L so take the time to talk about what went wrong. You don’t have to belittle them. Tell them how dope they are and where they can improve to be even better.
There’s always a lesson to be learned after a loss. Not sure where to begin? Focus on effort, having the right attitude and having them give it their all for starters.
You Appreciate Winning After Losing
Kids and adults have a hard time dealing with disappointment, won’t lie about that. However, disappointment can be a huge motivator.
My son’s soccer team was the best his league for six years straight. Then it all changed. We lost almost all our players and started catching Ls left and right. The kids and parents that remained were stunned all season.
None of us were ready for these losses especially our kids and they let us know. We watched them cry off the field after a lost and even saw their love of soccer start to diminish. You could tell by their attitude every game. It seemed like they didn’t want to be there. They felt worthless losing.
Most parents would dismiss this and simply tell their kids, “Oh, it’s just a game. Get over it!”
They are right but to kids, it’s not just a game!
Kids hate losing and they get lost in their emotions. They want to be accepted, they want to feel proud and they want to show off for us dads. A loss kills that but it’s so necessary.
My son and his team had to learn how to appreciate a win now because they honestly didn’t know when they would win again. Now every goal was gold, every assist drew smiles on their faces, every win actually meant something.
Remind your kids that it is OK to get upset over losing, but they must leave that loss in the past and focus on what will get them that future win. It feels good to win, but it feels even better when you win after a loss. It can’t happen if you stop playing.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
James J. Lopez, a member of the NYC Dads Group, is a co-founder of The Phat Startup and Tech808, companies that help people who identify with urban culture reach for their Silicon Valley dreams. He is a self-proclaimed techie and a father of three. A version of this first appeared on his blog Cool4Dads.