There is a lot of value in losing and failing.  Some of the most successful people in the world will tell you that.  So why do we feel the need to let kids win?

I get it.  It feels good to win.  It makes you feel like you’ve done something.  But have you ever won against someone who didn’t try?  It’s just not as good of a feeling.

Over the weekend we had a party for my daughter’s graduation.  One of the things she wanted to do was to have an “Adults vs. Kids” kickball game.  We’ve done it in the past for other parties and it was a riot. So, we decided to do it again this year.

While we were playing, one of our guests said, “just remember…your daughter is out there and it’s her party.”

Now, first of all, no one was really playing that hard.  We were all joking and having fun.  And the person was really just joking with me about it because I was chirping at the kids a little.  But there are people out there who truly believe that you should always let kids win to give them a sense of confidence.

Does it really help them though?  Doesn’t that give them a false sense of confidence?

I’m not saying you need to be a complete and total jerk when you compete against your kids.  There’s no need to call them names or make them feel bad.  You shouldn’t rub it in. Be supportive. Teach them how to do it better.  But why just let them win?  What do you learn by being handed something?  You learn that things should just be given to you.

Also, it's a game.  It's meant to be fun.  If you aren't having fun simply because you're losing, then you're missing the point.

If a kid loses a game against someone older than them when they’re young, it helps them to learn to get better.  They get to experience loss when it doesn’t mean as much.  They learn how to deal with the feelings they get when they fail.  The losses that they experience as adults can actually have important consequences…then how will they deal with it?

The other part of this is, who challenged who?  There’s a good lesson there too. It’s called respect.

If you’re a kid and you challenge an adult, it can be a pretty humbling moment to lose to someone that you think is old and frail.  I always think of this scene from the movie Second Hand Lions:

Do you want to help your kids be successful?  Don’t ask people to let them win.  Set them up for success and help them earn that win on their own.

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