Winning at losing: The foundations of self-regulation

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Let’s face it, no one likes to lose. Most of us adults have learnt to accept that it’s a part of life and not have a meltdown every time things don’t go our way. However, toddlers don’t get the losing gracefully memo until much later.

So as parents we often let our little ones win, we feel like it boosts their confidence and helps them to feel good about themselves and it’s the right thing to do. We just want our children to be happy. (Plus we usually want to avoid an epic tantrum, let’s be honest!)

But by letting your child win all the time, you are actually not doing them any favours at all.

Children are so busy learning and absorbing everything from the world around them; using their experiences as tools for when they enter the world themselves as they grow. So, by sending them off into the world without having ever experienced failure or losing, they won’t have the ability to be able to process it.

Accepting failure and learning to regulate their emotions is a skill that takes time and practice (and patience from the parents!). Allowing your child to fail or lose in small ways, in a safe environment will help them build resilience to know that failure and loss are part of life and to be ok with it. 

Play is the foundation of so many essential life skills such as resilience, confidence and self-expression. By allowing them the opportunity to experience moments of both frustration and achievement, we are setting them up for success through realistic expectations. And what better way to give them this than through play.

Children need to feel supported in order to feel confident to discover new concepts and ideas. Connected Parenting Expert, Genevieve Muir wants parents to understand the importance of allowing children to explore the world through play. It’s a safe space for them to learn, test limits and fail.

Take some time out of your day to sit on the floor with your child, grab some LEGO® DUPLO®  bricks and make it a focus to challenge each other. Try to race to build the tallest tower or make a race track to race your cars around, get a little competitive and have some fun with it!

Gen’s top 5 tips for teaching your child to lose

  1. Losing is a part of life but our kids don’t know how to do it yet. We need to help them get there.
  2. Allowing your child to lose in a safe environment from a young age allows them to process their feelings in a safe space.
  3. Learning to lose is just as important as learning to win, so practice often.
  4. Encourage turn-taking during play to help them practise these important social skills.
  5. When they find it hard to lose, welcome their emotions and let them know what they are feeling is normal. “You wanted to win, I like to win too. It’s ok to feel sad”.

Now, we know that as parents we’re not always perfect. (In fact, we celebrate the fact that we’re not because we know it’s not possible.) And so many things we see in our children can trigger us because they make us uncomfortable with something we see or feel within ourselves.

Remember that our children are sponges, and the old ‘do as I say and not as I do’ excuse just doesn’t fly. So, if you feel like your child is having a hard time accepting failure, could it be something you also need to look at too? Sure, you can happily lose a car race to your child – but can you lose a board game to your partner? Or an argument? When something doesn’t go your way, how do you react? And does your child see this?

Our children are absorbing everything they see and hear and the actions and behaviours of their primary caregivers in those early years are their first example of what is acceptable. 

It’s not always easy to step back and take a look at our own behaviour but kids have a beautiful way of bringing the best out of us. But perhaps next time you are playing a game with your child, you can use it as a learning experience for yourself too.

This is a paid partnership between Kiindred and the LEGO® DUPLO® Brand.

LEGO, LEGO® DUPLO® and the Minifigure are trademarks of The LEGO Group. ©2021 The LEGO Group.

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