Parents: The next paragraph might seem a bit self-promoting, but we promise you that it turns into some insights about parenting that we have learned ourselves through our current experience, so please keep reading!
Moms on Edge has been chosen as one of five finalists in a major business competition sponsored by Yahoo!. The three companies who ultimately win the contest will be chosen by vote. The voting happens on the Yahoo! site where visitors to the site view a short video of the five companies and then vote for their favorite. Everyday we watch as the percentages change, somedays we are ahead, and sometimes we are wayyyyy behind. We have four more days to watch.
What an opportunity to model good behavior and teach our children about taking risks and chances, being good sports, having resilience and maintaining balance even through “edge of your seat” times.
Here is how we discussed these topics with our kids.
Teach your children that taking healthy risk is good and that being risk averse can keep them from enjoying activities that they love. Encourage them to step outside of their comfort zone and do things that might make them feel a little uncomfortable. Examples of risk taking for young children could be approaching children at school or on the playground that they would like to play with, trying a new instrument or sport, taking the the training wheels off, skating, competing in an event, etc. Start encouraging your children to take risks early and help them build the self confidence that they will need as adults to interview for college, go for the really great job or ask for a raise.
Remind your children that everyone feels anxious in new situations, even the teacher on the first day of school and the coach on the first day of practice! They need to know that the child that they would love to play with on the jungle gym would be thrilled to have a new buddy.
Good sportsmanship is one of the greatest lessons you can teach your children. Roger Federer, considered to be perhaps the greatest tennis player of all time, did not start winning major tournaments until he conquered his temper on the court. His poise especially during the most important points makes him virtually unbeatable. He hates to lose but has grace when he does and uses a loss to get better.
Teach your children, even when playing tic tac toe that win or lose they must be good sports. Tell them that win or lose they are fine. It can feel really good to do your best, lose and shake your opponents hand. Kids are ready for that message at different points of development just keep reinforcing the message and they will get it.
Losing is a fact of life. It can hurt, be humiliating and frustrating, and feel like the end of the world. Encourage your kids to keep working at what they love. Allow your children to vent their aggravation after a loss, take a little break and then nudge them right back out there.
Winning is also a fact of life. Teach them to win with grace and have compassion for their opponents. Let them enjoy their win! Remind them that their opponent might be feeling crummy. Also remind them that a win today could be a loss tomorrow.
Introduce your children to many different activities. Sometimes as parents we only encourage our kids to do those sports or activities that we love. Listen and watch your kids play. Do their eyes light up when they help in the kitchen, do they beg Daddy to take them out to throw a baseball, how about story telling or bug collecting or dancing? Give them a lot of down time to imagine and create and make believe and rest.
Maybe we will win this Yahoo! contest and maybe we won’t. As one of only 5 finalists out of 8,500 entrants, we already consider ourselves to be winners. But the most important thing for us is what this contest is teaching us about risk-taking, resilience, balance, and being good role models for our kids.