One afternoon a father and son were sitting down at a local restaurant to eat lunch. After taking his first bite, the son paused and asked:
“Dad, are bugs good for you to eat?”
The father replied, “Why would you ask that at lunch?”
After finishing their lunch the dad says, “Now, what did you want to ask me about bugs?”
The son said, “Oh, nothing Dad. There was a bug in your chili but now it’s gone.”
The small battles between a father and son are priceless. It could be over a bug at lunch, chores at home, grades at school, or on the driveway.
Do you let your child win? Should you let your child win? Remember, the scene from Big Daddy where the kid continually says, “I win” while playing cards? The kid has to win, no matter if he really wins or loses, he says, “I win” much to the frustration of the adults.
So, should parents let their kids “win” in real life? I’ve heard everything from it really doesn’t matter, to it’s 50-50, to you never let them score a point or win. There is such a delicate balance there, it’s a fine line.
This is how it is with my six year-old at times. We’ve just started playing “sports” as he says in our driveway almost every day. And he reminds me of the kid from Big Daddy. He has to win, but I don’t always let him.
As you know, I am coach. I’ve coached basketball for 13 years and football for 11 years. I’ve initiated playing but never forced my sons to play sports. We’ve introduced them to multiple sports, I model them, but we’ve yet to sign them up for a specific team. My wife and I are very aware of our son’s personality, and we’re not going to push him into something until he’s ready and comfortable.
First and foremost, we want to foster, nurture, and protect his own desires. It wasn’t until recently, I’d say about six months or so, that my oldest son started asking me to go out and play sports with him. I jumped. Man, was it and has it been awesome. I haven’t, nor will I ever, tell him no when he asks he to play with him. If it’s nice outside, we’re out playing basketball, hockey, baseball, or football. Through his he’s gone from an very awkward kid to being pretty good at all the sports.
(I know what you’re thinking, he must’ve got it from mom. Hardly…lol. Love you Angie!)
If we’re playing basketball he’s the Eagles or Bulls and I’m the Hawks or Cavs. If we’re playing hockey he’s the Blues and I’m the Sharks. Well, the first couple of times the Hawks and Ducks won, the Eagles and Blues ran into the garage crying. Uh-oh.
Do I just let him win so he will keep playing?
I went in and sat with him and explained that it’s good to want to win. But you can’t cry about it when you don’t win. You just have to get back up and try again.
My son is a Michael Jordan fan, who isn’t (except for the city of Cleveland)? So, I asked him what Michael Jordan did in Space Jam? What do you think he did after each loss, because even Michael Jordan lost games? He said, “He probably got back up and tried again.”
So, we went out and played another game. This time it was back and forth, and somehow through divine intervention, he made the last shot and won.
He had fun.
He wanted to keep playing and come back again to play the next day.
We both won!
Now, my approach may be different from yours, and that’s okay, but here’s how we handle our driveway battles.
- He chooses what sport we play.
- He picks his team name and I pick mine.
- I win more games than he does.
- I let him shoot and score.
- I will get rebounds or stop his shots in hockey.
- In basketball and hockey, I shoot further back than he does.
- No matter who wins, we shake hands and say “Good Game” after the game is over.
Some people will say I’m making him soft by letting him score on me or allowing him to beat me. I disagree. He’s gained tremendous confidence in himself and enhanced his self-esteem.
He’s learning how to compete fairly.
He’s learning how to handle adversity and defeat. (I see him fight the tears when I’m winning, and continue to play and “try hard.”)
He’s learning how to win with class.
My heart and gut tell me this is the right thing for my son. It’s not about me, it’s about what’s best for him. This summer we’ll start introducing him to camps and league teams because he’s ready now. He wasn’t at three, four, and five years old.
The other night as we talked after his night-time book, he said, “Dad, sometimes I do good, but sometimes I don’t do good against the big kids.”
I told them that’s okay. But because he practices every day and plays against the big kids, he’s getting better and better. I told him he’s getting good for his age, and playing against the older kids will help him do well for when he plays against kids his own age.
His face lit up with pride.
That’s what it’s all about.
What approach do you think is best to take when playing your kids in sports? What works best for you?
Give this some thought: “If you continuously compete with others, you become bitter, but if you continuously compete with yourself, you become better.”
Watch this clip for a great example of competitive fun with kids→ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlSgBt8LRZ0
Biblical quote: “But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.” Galatians 6:4
As always, thanks for reading, have a great week, and be an RGP today!
Coach Elmendorf is available to speak to your team, group, or organization. Message him for details.