why every kid must learn how to lose

I love watching my son grow up…

It seems like just yesterday that he was spitting out sounds so desperately wanting to be understood. Now he tells me things about bugs I never knew.

Slowly, but surely, I feel the baton is being passed forward.

He may be only six, but in the blink of an eye, he’ll be all grown up and I won’t know where all the time went.

In between now and then it’s my job (and my wife’s) to help him prepare for this crazy thing called life.

So far, so good.

He has the respect of his classmates. Is considered fair and just in class and listens to his teachers. While he had some trouble when he was four keeping up with classes because of the language, now he always comes home with a smile.

For fun, he plays with Lego and watches TV.

In a nutshell, he’s one happy kid.

I must admit that it came as a surprise to me, when he told me two years ago that he wanted to learn Karate.

“What about Aikido?” I asked.

“No. Karate!” Was his response back, and about a month later we found ourselves as three of the founding members of our sensei’s new dojo.

It wasn’t easy at first.

Being 38 and not very flexible, the stretches were tough for me. I remember begging my sensei to stop more than once cuz of the pain.

My son, on the other hand, had his first taste of tough love from someone other than his parents. A few times I had to console him after being told off.

Then there are the Karate competitions.

For those of you who aren’t aware, Karate competitions usually consist of two main events: kata (style) and kumite (combat).

My son enters both every chance we get.

The first two he joined he came home empty handed, but he so wanted a trophy that was given to only the top two.

In his third competition, his hard work paid off as he walked away with gold in kumite.

He’s getting quite goodfor his age that is.

However, as the Michael Jordans of the world know, you can’t win every game. And on Sunday, my son learned that painful lesson, yet again.

In the morning he took home gold, which gave him even more confidence for his afternoon battle.

Unfortunately, his opponent’s kick took him by surprise and in under a minute it was all over.

Sure, it must have hurt to get kicked in the headtwicebut what really hurt was losing and it showed in his face.

But every kid must learn how to lose.

We fail tests. We lose races. We get our butts kicked at monopoly. Girlfriends or boyfriends, break our hearts. We say goodbye to family and friends. All different forms of losing. And they all hurt.

Loss is something that just can’t be avoided, but we must learn to accept it.

Accept that we won’t pass every test. That we’ll lose some races. That we’ll lose at monopoly. That we’ll have our hearts broken. That life is short, and shorter for some more than others.

I’ll be honest, I wanted my son to come home with two gold medals the other day. But seeing him stand there with tears in his eyes after his match, part of me said, “Maybe it’s better this way.”

We should always work hard to be better. And overcoming pain, in any of its various forms, is one of the greatest lessons we can teach our kids.

I always tell my son that as long as he does his best, he can hold his head up high. There is no shame in losing.

That’s just the way it goes and the best athletes and business people understand this.

Steve Jobs didn’t hit a homerun with everything he created. Roger Federer has lost his share of finals. Thomas Edison failed over 9,000 times before he succeeded in creating the lightbulb. People forget your losses, but they remember your victories.

Losing just helps remind us that we have to work that much harder to achieve what we want.

My son may have lost his match on Sunday, but he’ll be ready for his next competition in September.

In life, we must roll with the punches. A boxer can get hit to the mat twenty times, but it won’t matter if he gets up twenty-one times.

I’ve had two businesses fail. I’ve lost money in investments more than once.

But I’ve learnt. I’ve learned how to lose and move on, which is something every kid should learn. The sooner the better.

Adrian Shepherd

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