If you constantly treat your kid like a winner, they are going to lose


When I was a kid, I was surrounded by kids who got nearly everything they wanted. They wanted the new Barbie jeep, they got it. A new American Girl doll? All theirs. They would ask and receive, and that’s how it would go.

But I didn’t get the same gifts. I would ask, of course, but more than not, I would get blatantly shut down. As a six-year-old, getting rejected hits a little harder, tending to draw a tantrum out of me. But for some reason, my parents wouldn’t give in. At the time, it was the worst thing ever, but now, I realize just how important it was that my parents said no.

To clarify, I’m not saying I never got the things I wanted because that would be a lie. The moral of this story is that I didn’t get rewarded when I did something wrong. I was taught at a young age that usually in life you need to work for the things you want, and if you do something wrong, you shouldn’t expect to be rewarded.

There are always going to be the parents that baby their kids, the ones who can’t say no, and the ones who couldn’t bear to punish little Timmy. However, in recent times, the percentage of these parents has grown, and the reality of it all is that it’s actually hurting their children.

The lessons we learn when we are little are some of the most important things we will ever learn. They are the first lessons our little brains are introduced to—they stick forever. Our brains are still developing, and everything we encounter during that development period leaves a little imprint on the final product. 

Being a parent is hard—it’s a task I won’t be ready to take on for a long time. It is also super important. There isn’t a “right” or “wrong” way to parent, but there is a realistic way. Everyone wants their kids to be happy. It’s natural to want the best for those we love most. But, this strong desire to generate happiness in a child’s life sometimes leads parents to become soft and to not prepare their kids for the real world.

Let me go back to my story. Around the same time I decided to ask for a new American Girl doll, I had just gotten in trouble for setting off a tornado in my sister’s room, being the mischievous child I was. Therefore, I was in some trouble with the parental unit.

You might not know it, but you’re preparing your kid to deal with the adversity that will be thrown into their life. ”

I still felt like giving the American Girl doll thing a shot, so little me went for it and asked. Then came the rejection and the tantrum. Although I didn’t understand it then, that seemingly insignificant moment actually played a key role in preparing me for real life.

If my parents would’ve just said yes to my begging, I would have never learned my lesson from the trouble I had shortly before caused. I would basically be rewarded for getting in trouble; I wouldn’t learn that what I just did was bad, and I wouldn’t learn that I shouldn’t do it again.

From suffering the consequences when I was little, I was being prepared step-by-step for the next years of life. I learned that life wasn’t always a breeze, and that sometimes things don’t go your way. So when I face adversity now, I know how to deal with it. But if I was always treated like I was a winner, I would be losing at life, and the little obstacles would ruin me.

The same idea goes along with rewarding kids in activities like sports. With the new generations, there’s been a new trend of rewarding every kid on the field—yes, the losers and the winners. 

For example, take a little kids soccer game. One team gets beat 9-0, but both teams get trophies. Obviously, we don’t want our kids to be upset or feel bad, so we must reward them all. 

But then we get to a few years later, and a team loses 9-0 again. Rather than thinking about things they could improve on, the losing team is waiting for their trophies. I thought we were all winners, Mom?

Then, one of the kids from that same team is more grown up. He applies to a college and gets rejected. Well, where is my trophy now, Mom? I did my best, why don’t I get a reward? 

Reality check—we aren’t all winners in the real world. 

The first few years of our lives, specifically the toddler years when we actually begin to understand concepts, are surprisingly some of the most important parenting years. You might not know it, but you’re preparing your kid to deal with the adversity that will be thrown into their life. 

You are preparing them so that when they lose that soccer game, they’ll look for things they can do better, use the motivation to be better, to win, to drive them to become the best player they can be.

You are setting them up so that when that one college they want doesn’t accept them, they don’t break or lose strength; they work harder.

If we just treat our kids like winners all of their childhood, they aren’t going to know what it’s like to lose until reality smacks them in the face; they’re not going to be ready. 

By trying to always make them winners, we are setting them up to lose.