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Teach your kids how to be cheerful losers

Parenting
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 Children should understand that it's not every day that they will win (Photo: iStock)

 The Kenyan citizen has been surviving on hope for the past week or so. We held on to it throughout the campaign, and uncle Willy and Baba’s supporters are still clinging to strands of it, with each faction wanting the best for their candidate.

Unbeknownst to most of us, the period of uncertainty preceding the court cases and swearing is gradually preparing us to accept whatever outcome we receive.

We are like a mother who has been carrying a high-risk pregnancy and, despite knowing that the chances of foetal survival are slim, we have clung to every hope that it will survive. However, even if we don’t want to admit it, we are mentally preparing for a negative outcome. While our mouths may vehemently deny our readiness to accept defeat, our bodies are gradually preparing for any eventuality.

Perhaps now is the best time to teach our Kababas and Kamamas the difference between victory and defeat. Rather than crowning them champions for trivialities like eating a plate of ugali, we should use such lessons to teach them that they will sometimes win and sometimes lose.

We have painted a fantastical world for our children in which they believe they are always the best, even when their performance is mediocre.

It is for this reason that children cry when teachers fail to recognise their stick drawings because their parents tell them they are the best artists since Van Gogh. We replicate the concept of nusu mkate in our classrooms and homes because we are afraid to admit to our children that they cannot be the best at everything. As a result, we end up awarding everyone and making everyone believe they are winners.

We are not very good at dealing with losses as a country, which is why we all tell our children that we were the best in school. We all want to be winners without admitting to ourselves that giving our all does not always result in the top spot and that in such cases, all that should matter is that we gave our all. Few of us teach our children the values of hard work and perseverance. Instead, we place too much emphasis on the top prize without taking the time to consider the journey.

As a result, we send an unintended message to our children: in order to succeed, they should take any path, even if it is illegal. One of the most important lessons we can teach our children is that failure is a necessary part of the journey to success. While we may not always win, our failures and mistakes should serve as learning experiences that influence our decisions to become better at what we do.

And when they finally bring the trophy home, we must teach our children to be graceful in their joy rather than displaying the theatrics we see in Nollywood. Similarly, they should learn to accept defeat with their heads held high, rather than punctuating their disappointments with biblical verses.

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