If You Want Your Child to Win, You Need Lose.
Before I had my child, I sought advice from several seasoned parents. None of this advice quite made an impression on me. However, this one tip I learned on a hiking trip from a random stranger who is a seasoned parent stuck with me. Over the last few years, I’ve used this over and over again with my child. It has done wonders for my child’s self-esteem. It has also done wonders for our relationship.
Parenting is the one job where we are forced to re-examine ourselves. Our inflated egos don’t stand a chance against a young child who thinks the world revolves around them. To survive as parents, we put down our masks, we deflate our egos, and we let our children grow powered by our love.
When you hear a fellow parent tell you that the trick to parenting is to lift your child by putting yourself down, what do you think?
You might think: really? aren’t I supposed to be showing my child how things are done?
No, you don’t need to.
It’s better if your child figures it out for themselves. The motivation for figuring things out comes directly from you. It comes from you pretending to be incompetent and not knowing anything so that your child can learn how good it feels to accomplish things. In beating you, the parent, your child is learning the process of winning.
What a novel concept!
I grew up in an overachieving family. My parents routinely overachieved while interacting with me. My motivation was always deflated because no matter how hard I worked, I was never good enough in my parent’s eyes. On top of that, their achievements made me feel as if they were always going to be better.
This is why the reverse is so effective. When you play board games with your children, do you pretend to lose? Well, you should pretend to lose a few rounds so that they gained the confidence to allow them to learn more. At strategic moments, make calculated moves with escalating difficulty. Your child’s competitive spirit will come out. Your child will be motivated to win.
If you are insanely good at something, pretend you don’t know a thing and let your child teach you.
This is how your child can learn.
If you are a good programmer, ask your child to teach you how to program in a language you don’t know.
If you are a good writer, ask your child to teach you how to write a story in a genre you don’t write in.
If you are a good surgeon, ask your child to take apart a skeleton and help you identify all the parts.
For your child, you are a role model. True motivation will only come if your child can feel like they have a chance at winning. The first person they need to beat is you. By beating you, again and again, your child will learn the skill of winning. Your child will also gain confidence in figuring things out. Your child will feel safe while winning. The result of the win will feel good. But, the motivation of trying to win is 100 times better. At the same time, since it’s you that your child is beating, your child will feel a bit bad and learn to empathize with you.
This is how to raise a confident child who likes to win but can exhibit empathy for the loser. You simply act out this scenario and pretend to be the loser over and over again for the next 18 years.
Now, what are you going to do on Friday night? I hope you will let your child win a few games of scrabble and teach you something in the process. By throwing away the myth of having to teach, you are teaching your child the best life lesson of them all: How to win and how to be a good winner.
About the Author
Jun Wu is a Content Writer for Technology, AI, Data Science, Psychology, and Parenting. She has a background in programming and statistics. On her spare time, she writes poetry and blogs on her website.