No one ever sets out to lose a game, but experiencing defeat in a safe, supportive play setting can actually build critical life skills! Here are 5 life lessons we can learn by losing, plus tips to help parents and teachers drive them home. Who knew you could gain so much by losing?!
5 Life Lessons Learned by Losing (say that 10 times fast!)
1. Look before you leap. Often a careless move can be a game-changer, so encourage players to analyze their options and calculate the risks before deciding on a move. Practice patience and planning by playing a few rounds with extra “think time” before a player can move, and talk through the possible consequences of all move options.
2. Never fear… Persevere! When players find themselves with the odds stacked against them, it’s tempting to throw in the towel. Encourage stick-to-it-iveness in players teetering on the edge of quitting by teaming up and looking for new ways to turn the game around together. Even when down to your last fingernail in Hangman, there’s still a chance!
3. Think like your opponent. In a game of strategy, focusing solely on your own moves leaves you wide open to an opponent’s sneaky plans! Learn how to be at least one step ahead of your challenger by paying close attention to her moves. Before deciding on your next step, look at the board through your opponent’s eyes to see what she’s got cooking… your best move could be a defensive one.
4. Learn to empathize. No one likes to be on the losing end, and an obnoxious opponent can make a defeat all the more crushing. Ask players to share how it feels when you lose, and brainstorm comments they would find most supportive. In the classroom, posting a list of encouraging phrases generated by students in your game area (i.e. “You played really well!,” “Why don’t you pick the next game?” etc.) is a powerful reminder of the impact of our words and the importance of being respectful both in victory and defeat.
5. You win some, you lose some. Remember, this is game play we’re talking about, so above all else, relax and Have Fun! Understandably, players may mope and feel disappointed after a loss. Validate these feelings and help them move on. Practice with quick-play games that last only a few minutes so players can easily jump into the next round to start fresh. Being faced with the prospect of fun game time ending makes it much more appealing to get back on the horse and give a game another shot!
Struggling to help a sore loser? Here are more dos and don’ts for turning losses into learning opportunities!
What has losing taught you, either as a child or grown-up? Have tips for helping kids cope with defeat? Please share!