Toronto Mike

Learning to Lose


My five year old son and I often play one-on-one basketball in the backyard.  It's not a regulation height net, and we permit travelling, and we play up to 21 with every basket worth a point.  Until yesterday, I've always let him win.

During our game yesterday, he seemed a little cocky, as if he would beat me fair and square.  I realized that I always let him win, and I wondered how he'd react if he lost.  Yesterday I beat him and quickly learnt James doesn't yet know how to lose.

He lost it.  In the history of poor losers, James was the poorest I've ever seen.  He was furious at me for having the audacity to beat him and headed full steam into tantrum mode.  I wasn't having any of it.

After a time out period in his bedroom, we talked about it.  I asked him what he saw me do after he witnessed my ball team lose last week.  He realized that we not only didn't cry and pout, but we actually lined up and congratulated the opposition.  I told him how important it is to be a good loser and that there's absolutely no shame in losing.  I learnt this early, thanks to my 0-15 season on the CN Towers, and now it was James' turn to learn how to lose.

Late last night, just before bed, James thanked me for the game and congratulated me on my win.  Just to make sure he gets it now, I'm going to beat him again.  Then, if he takes it like a man, I'll let him taste victory once more.

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