And a veteran performance coach and the father of twin 13-year-old sons and an 11-year-old daughter… I’m often asked for my perspective on a variety of parenting topics… and wanted to share a particular perspective.
I never have (and never will) let my kids’ beat me in anything.
I repeat – I have NEVER let my children win.
Now before anyone calls Children’s Protective Services, please let me elaborate…
Like all parents, I love my children more than anything in the world. My children are very fortunate and have a great life. I am thankful for the opportunity to provide them with love, time, and attention.
However, above and beyond their basic needs, I want my children to EARN everything they want in life. I want them to know that nothing will be handed to them.
I do not want my children to become entitled. It is an affliction I see running rampant among today’s youth.
I want my kids to EARN every grade, EARN every dollar, and EARN every spot on the team.
So I don’t let them beat me.
I believe sports is an unparalleled vehicle for teaching life lessons and values.
One of those lessons is learning to win gracefully and lose graciously.
When I beat them, I model the behavior I want them to emulate when they win.
And when they lose, I hold them to a high standard of sportsmanship.
Please keep in mind, at their present ages, they do beat me – and it’s happening more and more frequently – in games like Connect Four or Jenga… or bowling or billiards!
They are still at least a few years away from being able to beat me in hoops. .. but truthfully… I look forward to that day! And when it happens… it will be REAL and it will be EARNED!
On a more macro level, I try not to emphasize the winning/losing, but rather focus on the importance of the process.
When my kids and I are playing anything, it is their effort, focus, and grit that are most important to me – not the final score.
But we do keep score. And there are ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ – it’s just not the focal point.
I want my children to experience the joy of winning and the disappointment of losing on a regular basis.
I want to teach them how to handle both situations with class.
EDITED UPDATE: I should have done a better job clarifying my approach in my original post. My kids DO WIN often… it’s simply that I don’t LET THEM. How? 1) I change the rules. If we’re racing to the car, I give them a head start. If we’re playing H-O-R-S-E, I play with my left hand. 2) We play plenty of games of chance (board games, etc.) where strength/speed/wisdom have zero benefit!!