Good Evening Ladies and Germs!

If you’re familiar with my office then you probably know one of my first employees, Marianne. She’s been with me for almost 10 yrs and is loved by parents and staff. Marianne is a motivated worker and brings a lot to the office. Not surprisingly, her daughter, Ari, is quite the overachiever. She’s a senior in high school, class vice president, straight A student, and competitive volleyball player. She recently got accepted to Barrett, The Honors College at ASU.

When Ari was in junior high she ran for class vice president. She lost a close election. I remember walking into the office the next morning and seeing how upset Marianne was and at the time I didn’t know why. I asked what was wrong and she told me that Ari had lost the election. My response was not what Marianne was expecting. I said, “That’s great!!!” She looked at me like I was nuts and I tried to explain. I wasn’t really happy that Ari had lost, I was excited that she had an opportunity to learn how to deal with defeat. I saw it as an extremely important life lesson for her. I knew she would learn more by dealing with the loss than she would have if she had won. There was a bigger picture here and I wanted them both to see it. What I really saw was an opportunity for Ari to grow.

Learning how to lose is one of the most important lessons a child can learn. Unless we’re Michael Jordan, most of us will experience as many failures in life as we will victories. Learning how to handle those failures as a child makes for a much more confident and adjusted adult. Children need to learn to take chances and not fear failure. The world doesn’t end. They wake up the next day and go on. It’s the one time in life that a person can fail and not suffer any real consequences other than a bruised ego. And occasional bruises to one’s ego are rarely a bad thing. They need to learn how to handle loss without criticizing or making excuses. And learn that they should never tear someone else down to make themselves look better because that always has the opposite effect. Along the same theme, learning how to win with class is important too, but that’s usually easier to teach.

Do you know someone that doesn’t know how to deal with loss? Or someone that can’t accept not getting their way? They’re not fun people to be around. Some adults have never learned how to handle defeat.

So what happened with Ari you ask?? Well, I told Marianne that I didn’t want to hear anything about Ari’s loss. That she needs to go home and congratulate her for competing and let her know how proud of her she is. That Ari should be holding her head high and should be proud herself that she had the courage to run. And most importantly, that there was a bigger issue at hand here, the opportunity for Ari to learn how to deal with defeat. (she did great btw! ;)

So secretly be a little relieved and maybe even a little happy when your child suffers a setback or loses at something. I mean, what an opportunity! Help them learn how to deal with it positively. After all, it’s your losses in life, your failures, and your defeats that reveal your true character.

-Dr. B