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Should We Encourage Our Children to See Themselves as a Winner?

Article by Auriel Blanche


Thursday, March 31, 2016

An old photograph of a man holding a boy as he holds onto a large trophy

Picture credit: Museum Victoria of Unsplash

Vince Lombardi the popular American life coach said: “Winning isn't everything, but the will to win is everything.” Is this true? Well do start with What does ‘a winner’ mean to you and your child – and to society?  Is it important that our children see themselves as winners? Should we encourage winning? Should we include them in competitions? Give them the chance to be winners?  Or should we teach our children that simply taking part is really what counts? I think the most important thing is to realise that being a “winner” to an individual can be succeeding in whatever way means success and satisfaction to them.  They may not be top of the form or the team (at work) but they may be on their way to fulfilling their own potential and rightly pleased with that. 

I know there is a great deal of competition these days, but not everyone wants the responsibility or hard work of being a leader and first past the post, so the concept of being a winner is really down to the individual, although society will always take a view – but often unthinking. So, should we teach our children that there are other more healthy, less competitive ways to become a winner? Supporting them to find the correct view of “winning” for them and above all being proud of themselves for so doing? Winning could be helping others, giving to charity, overcoming a personal challenge, trying harder at school….  Is there really a need to push our children into dancing competitions, sporting competitions, etc. because we think they should, unless this is what they enjoy & works for them? Smaller scale victories can be just as rewarding. Surely satisfaction in whatever our children do is the most important thing and feeling proud of their achievements.   

At a mundane level, I remember we realised we needed to send my daughter to a more challenging school for her to do her best but we told her there was absolutely no way she had to stay there if she wasn’t happy. Of course, there are some children who thrive on competition and need it to reach even greater heights and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that per se.  Leaders and winners break barriers and set new levels of achievement to inspire others – look at the wonderful ethos of the Olympics – achieving excellence with determination, hard work and above all passion, going beyond what was thought possible. “Encouraging our children to be a winner” can have great outcomes. Being successful improves confidence, self-esteem and pride in themselves. This can then give them courage and enthusiasm to try new things, learning and also developing existing skills, and starting to enjoy the excitement of challenges. 

It can give them a real purpose and energy in their lives, as long as they realise that failure is necessary for learning and you only fail if you give up.  Support them in looking for challenges at the right level for them personally. A healthy competitive attitude can be seen as a good thing as it means the child has a belief in themselves and a motivation to be the best they can be.  Teaching a child to realistically appreciate and develop their range of abilities with the security of a good set of ground rules and values from home can make a big difference in providing their best chance of success and satisfaction. Children should be educated to know that winning as depicted on popular TV competitions is probably not very realistic as to how to judge a winner! It is very entertaining and shows how contestants have the courage to get out there and do their best – but how many of them stay what is accepted as being a winner after the current competition is finished?   

Does having actually got into the competition somehow make them a winner? It is probably better that children look at other role models who have taken time and dedication to become winners rather than people who are famous for 15 minutes. What makes children achieve “winner” status for themselves can be many different things, not necessarily just competition.  But an act that makes them feel a winner – such as success in helping others, overcoming a personal issue, trying something new and scary for them, achieving a personal triumph, applying initiative, doing something kind for someone else, overcoming fear finding solutions to problems – these are all valuable achievements.  Most important perhaps will be feeling good about themselves, and valued by their parents and peer group Do parents encourage and support their child to feel a” winner” in whatever way is right for their children? Auriel Blanche – Creator of the Magic Sunglasses Programme – helping kids develop real self-confidence –