Being a Winner is Not How Children Should Define Success

Being a Winner is Not How Children Should Define Success

Today’s generation of children believes that being a winner – being #1 – is one of the most important personal characteristics they can strive towards. 

Humility, unfortunately, is not a word they use or apply in their interactions with others. Instead, they’ve based their self-worth and perceived successes on overconfidence, which includes always being a winner, on never making a mistake that would topple them from the throne of being #1.

Many children now lack the social-emotional skills to cope with losing – even among family or friends.

And when they are, in fact, the legitimate winner of a game, contest, or other competitive circumstance, they take great satisfaction in making sure they flaunt their achievement to the losing party with an unappealing dose of arrogance. 

To be valuable and beneficial to their child’s development as a model citizen of society, parents often encourage their children, which is a beautiful gift to provide to a child.

But when that encouragement is sometimes excessive, unrealistic, and even undeserving, that well-meaning support can quickly turn damaging – convincing impressionable children that the only way to be viewed as a success in society is by always being a winner. 

Famed neighbor, and a personal favorite, Fred Rogers once told the following story.

“A young apprentice applied to a master carpenter for a job. The older man asked him, “Do you know your trade?” “Yes, sir!” the young man replied proudly. “Have you ever made a mistake?” the older man inquired. “No, sir!” the young man answered, feeling certain he would get the job. “Then there’s no way I’m going to hire you,” said the master carpenter, “because when you make one, you won’t know how to fix it.”

For many of us, with age comes the understanding that our successes are not defined by perfection, a lack of mistakes, or by being a winner all or even most of the time. Those are unachievable goals. Believe it or not, our successes come from our failures, in our ability to adapt, pivot, reinvent ourselves, and persevere to a better place and outcome.

While there’s nothing wrong with encouraging children as they learn who they are and what they want to be when they grow up, we must teach them humility. To understand that no one is a winner all the time, and that’s perfectly fine. For how one handles losing says an awful lot about what kind of winner they really are.