When I play a game, I play to win. I don't like to come in second or even tie for that matter. I like to win. I don't see any reason to play a game if you are not playing to win whether it's a competitive sport like baseball or a casual dice game like Bunco. If a winner is announced at the end of the game, I want it to be me.
As much as I would like to, I don't always win. Sometimes I lose. But I'm OK with losing if I know that I gave 110% in my effort. I tried explaining this concept to Nicholas who is learning that it's no fun to lose. He likes to win, too. But he has to understand that his effort is more important than the outcome. If you give your best effort and lose, you still gave your best effort.
Nicholas's soccer team lost its game on Saturday, but it was the best game Nicholas has played so far. He worked hard. He ran hard. He played the entire 60 minutes because the team was down a few players and his coach needed him on the field. The best move of the whole game was when Nicholas blocked one of his opponent's goals. Imagine seeing the opponent racing down the field, the crowd is cheering and the opponent kicks the ball straight toward the goal. The ball is hurling steadily toward the net. All of a sudden, Nicholas appears out of nowhere from the side of the field running toward the ball. He jumps, soaring through the air like a bird, just in time to block the goal. The opponent and his crowd look confused, not too sure what just happened, and our side bursts into applause. I've never seen anything like it.
Nicholas was so hung up on losing that he didn't hear people praising him for his efforts. He didn't praise himself for his efforts. We had a long talk that night about how losing is a part of life but how you handle that loss makes all the difference.
Berating yourself for losing isn't going to make you a better player. You can't be number one at everything. You can't always win. But, you can learn from the losses, correct mistakes and try to do better the next time. Nicholas needs to take pride in his accomplishments and in his improving skills. Sometimes the scoreboard will go in his favor and sometimes it won't.
I always want my boys to play to win. If they aren't playing to win they shouldn't be spending time out on the field. I'm not one of those parents who thinks it's okay for every kid to get a medal just because he was on the team. If Nicholas didn't even try and lost the game as a result, I would be upset. But, he gave his best effort and that's all that anyone can ask for.
Better luck next time, kiddo.