Defeat teaches compassion

Remember the famous quote from Dragunsky’s book? “And you, then, took the third place? - Dad smiled, which made me very pleased. “Well, well,” he said, “after all, whatever you say, the third place is also award-winning, a bronze medal!” When the father finds out that everyone has taken the third place, he loses interest in this subject. Our blogger Aliya Maulesheva, who holds competitions in mental arithmetic, tells how important it is to teach children to lose.

The world's greatest basketball player Michael Jordan wrote in his book: “During my career, I missed over 9000 times. I lost almost 300 matches. 26 times I was entrusted to make a crucial throw and I missed. I often failed in my life. That is why I became a star.”

I want to convey this innermost thought to parents who are trying to cultivate the winning spirit and leadership skills in their children.

Competitions are one of the components of mental arithmetic learning. Once a year we conduct all-Russian competitions and once a world tournament. Except for that, there are inter-regional tournaments. Children are constantly competing and see their objective results, depending on which they make training plans.

However, over the years of competitions, we see that in case of loss or inconsistency with the expected result, children and adults get upset, and sometimes get hung up on the results, or become depressed.
We constantly strive to form self-confidence in children. However, in this pursuit, we sometimes go to extremes.

Instead of telling the child in case they didn’t reach the desired result, “you could do better”, “must have got excited,” “be more careful next time,” parents begin to shift responsibility. The kid hears: “the judge was unfair”, “they have given you a more difficult task than others”, “you were assigned to a stronger group”. Behind all these emotionally charged phrases is the desire to protect the child from troubles, and we, in fact, are constantly talking about how to teach a child to cope with difficult situations.

By demanding from children to win or study well, you are undermining their faith in themselves. They are simply lost in an adequate assessment of themselves. If the kid does not win, he must be worse than others. If he wins with the scandal, then he takes this behavior pattern as a norm. If he achieves brilliant results under your pressure, you can “reward” the child with the “star sickness” with all its consequences.
So what should be done in case of failure in competitions?

First, you need to remember that in competitions you compete with yourself. How much you have grown over the year, what practical experience you have gained, how your knowledge has progressed.
Secondly, a negative result is also a result. This is an indicator of what needs to be improved, what material is better to rehearse and consolidate. Next time, there will be an opportunity to make things better. The process is also a result. The child needs both the experience of victories and defeats.

Any failure builds the character! But let the child make mistakes. Calmly speak with him about his feelings of loss.

Sometimes adults go to another extreme, starting to laugh at the loss: “It’s nonsense!” However, at this very moment, you devalue all the child’s efforts and aspirations. You’d better praise him for these efforts, and tell what needs to be done in order to win next time.

Every year world mental arithmetic competitions, which have recently ended, gather the strongest students from around the world. There are 4.5 thousand participants from 80 countries and incredibly high competition. This fact itself compels respect for rivals. Consequently, the idea that you lose to the strongest, must be conveyed very delicately and correctly. Competing with the strongest, you are already among them. Be happy for the winner! Loss helps you cultivate nobility and compassion for the defeated, to be the basis of a strong will and future victories.

Parents, watch yourselves and your behavior! You are a mirror for your baby. If after failure you are overwhelmed by passion, keep in mind that your son or daughter’s reaction will be the same. Practice playing together, at least, through the example of a board game. Get together in the family circle, play and watch the reaction in case of loss. Help your child adjust reactions by your own example. They should know and feel that you love them, then you can overcome all miseries together. And remember that any failure is a chance to become better!