The Value of Losing


Lessons we can all learn from losing

American society is somewhat characterized by its winner-take-all mentality. Our society’s winners live like kings, while the “losers” often struggle to get by. In short, we have glorified winners and demonized losers. Unfortunately, this mentality is rubbing off on our children, many of whom just can’t handle losing. So, what is the value of losing?

“Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.” – Bill Gates

Though it is certainly important to provide our children with positive reinforcement for success (“winning”), it is important that our little ones handle losing with grace. Perhaps more importantly, it might be prudent to teach our children that the so-called “losers” of our society might also deserve to share in the spoils rather than allowing the winners to take all.

There is Value in Making Mistakes

Too many parents assume their children will learn from mom and dad’s mistakes in a vicarious manner. After all, if you were to fess up to your own life mistakes to your child, tween or teen, why would he or she repeat those errs? The little-known truth is it is quite beneficial for your little one to make his or her own mistakes, even if they are similar to your own. The bottom line is kids cannot learn from parents’ missteps in a vicarious manner as those mistakes simply do not hit home in the same way as the child’s own mistakes.   

Losing Builds Character 

Imagine a world in which your child’s intellect and physical abilities were vastly superior to those of his or her peers. Your child outscores the competition on the playing field and also in the classroom. He or she never loses. Such a child would likely be unbearable to be around due to a lack of humbling. The value of losing is that it serves as a humbling experience, forcing the youngster to understand he or she is not the center of the world, not the best at the competition in question, and unworthy of being pedestalized. 

“That’s what learning is, after all, not whether we lose the game, but how we lose and how we’ve changed because of it and what we take away from it that we never had before, to apply to other games. Losing, in a curious way, is winning.” – Richard Bach

Once your child experiences a loss, he or she will perform important self-reflection along with introspection, helping him or her understand it is not always possible to come out on top. This process is important for building character as the next time your child stumbles, he or she will get right back up, keep on trucking and learn the most important lesson in life: Character is measured by how one responds to adversity as opposed to how one responds to success.

Value of Losing – Make Your Child More Empathetic 

When your child loses, he or she identifies with fellow teammates as well as professional athletes and others who have also lost. This shared experience helps your child understand countless other people who are going through the exact same experience. As a result, your child will be that much more empathetic toward others. Empathy is no longer viewed as a weakness or character flaw. Child psychologists insist the next generation needs to become more empathetic in order to rebuild the social cohesion we have lost in the dawning of the tech age, hyper-capitalism, and the seemingly unbridled pursuit of self-interest.

Throw the Next Contest to Show Your Kids How to Handle Losing 

Intentionally throw the next competition you have with your kids to show them the proper way to handle losing. There is no need to reveal you intentionally lost. Pretend as though you really gave your all, express subtle disappointment, hold your head high, and compliment your child on his or her victory. Taking the high road after you will show your child how to lose in a truly graceful and mature manner that will ultimately benefit him or her when subsequent setbacks inevitably occur in the years ahead. For more information on Northdale Christian Academy or to schedule a tour, please feel free to call or fill out our contact form.