When I was 4, I landed the role of Snow White in my ballet class's recital. It wasn't because I was the best budding ballerina, but because I was the only little brunette in the class. Did the moms of the adorable blondes and redheads barge in and demand that everyone got to take a turn as Snow White? No! They all showed up at the recital with their cameras and bouquets for their little girls.
As I got older, I found sports. Softball, basketball, and soccer. When we won, we got ice cream after graciously slapping hands of the opposing team and saying "Good Game!" to each kid. When we lost, we did the same hand slapping and ice cream was skipped. Did we all tantrum and cry over losses? No! Did our parents charge the field and hug us and say, "Don't worry, I'll protect you from those terrible winners?" Nope!
In my opinion, it's imperative that I teach my child to be a good winner AND a good loser. To understand that sports and games are the same as life. Not always fair and you are not always coming out on top! Sometimes you aren't the best at something. Sometimes you aren't picked for the team and sometimes your team loses! He also needs to learn that when he does excel, taunting is just as inappropriate as tantruming over a loss.
I recently chatted casually about this topic with a mother of two boys older than mine and she said that in their house, the message isn't to "be the best", it's that you have to practice and try really hard. You may not ever be the most amazing, but you will get better than you were before. I think this is a great message we should all follow!
Perhaps it's because my generation wasn't coddled with regard to this topic, I'm not sure. But for me, the sense of entitlement that exists among children and young adults right now is terrifying! When you get to work every day, does your boss applaud and hand you a blue ribbon? When you meet deadlines for the reports that are due, are you given a trophy? If you show up to your grad school class on the designated days, does someone buy you ice cream? No! Because this is the real world and that's not how life works. We all have responsibilities and we have to adhere to them! When you excel at work or meet sales goals, you are rewarded with raises, promotions, bonuses, and sometimes incentives. When you fail to meet the responsibilities or have an adult tantrum, you are passed up for those incentives or possibly terminated. Shouldn't we prepare our kids for this and letting them know they must work for things but also handle losses AND wins graciously?