Monday, January 16, 2012

Learning to lose...

As parents it seems like there are always things to surprise us and keep working on new things with our kids, this weekend I found out Chicken needs to learn how to lose.  For some reason I had assumed with daycare, playing games as a family and all the sports that Chicken had learned to lose, and be a good sport, I was wrong.
The kids have been going to chess club since school started and really wanted to participate in one of the monthly tournaments.  With a weekend that wasn't too busy we went this last weekend.  The tournaments seem very well organized, but they start at 8:45 and you usually don't leave till after 1 pm and you only play three games, to put it mildly there is a lot of waiting around.  The waiting around and noise of well over 200 kids crammed into a cafeteria wasn't horrible and I brought the iTouchs so the kids could amuse themselves, but they were a bit restless to say the least.  All the noise and the waiting isn't always the best environment to see a kid at their best, especially mine, but generally both kids played their games and had a good time with the other kids while they were waiting around.

The first game Chicken played he won, the second he drew, and the last he lost, and this is where as a parent there was a glaring neon sign that we needed to start working with Chicken on losing.  The draw game he argued but eventually the referee was able to help him see that his best choice was to draw and get a tie.  The first two games by random chance he played against the same child, a cute girl who looked about his age. This last game was played just as quickly as the first two but about half way though even I could tell that Chicken was going to loose. I don't play chess, I don't really know anything about chess but I could even tell a lose was in Chicken's very near future. Both the boys while playing were not exactly playing by the rules, you touch it you play it, but towards the end as the end was in site it only got worse, Chicken was touching all the pieces and rolling around pieces as he waited for the other boy to play. As Chicken was approaching the end the other boy checked him and he could not see a way out. Technically this boy really check mated him, but as I didn't actually here him say check I am unsure he said anything at all. Next thing the other boy was raising his hand that he had said he won and Chicken was trying to figure out what was going on. The referee asked if they both agreed and Chicken immediately started arguing that he could still play, pieces started getting confused and moved and he was scrambling mentally and physically to refuse to lose. This is where I wished I could have stepped in and walked Chicken through the process of being a good looser, but at tournaments parents can't go out on the floor and I had to watch helpless as Chicken continued to try and scramble out of losing.  Eventually the referee got him to agree that the other boy won, but he was not a happy kid, he hopped up and came to me without looking at anyone and buried his head in my side. I knew he was upset, but felt like he still needed to be a good sport. We hunted down the other boy and shook hands and said good game. Within seconds of this Chicken was in tears and was getting just plain cranky, for the next hour he was a total pain in the butt and it dawned on me that besides being tired he was a bad  loser.  

Eventually Chicken calmed down and we had a talk about losing and how to lose to be a good sport.  Chicken did not like, nor really respect the ideas we talked about there were lots of buts and eye rolling. I decided that until he can lose to me we are going to really have to talk before any more chess tournaments. Yesterday morning I had the kids teach me the basics of chess and quickly beat Chicken, he immediately started arguing that he didn't lose. Bean helped me explain how I had won, thank goodness, and eventually Chicken agreed. This launched another talk about being a good loser, and how it is OK to stick up for yourself, but not OK to be a bad loser.

The balance between sticking up for yourself and accepting defeat on occasion can be a thin line, but something tells me Chicken wont' have an issue sticking up for himself, losing without being a total butt head, that is a different thing completely.  


  1. Good for you- it's such an important concept to teach.

  2. oh and such a difficult one to teach, way more than I thought