Dealing with our child's first taste of defeat.
Kian and LEGO are synonyms for anyone who knows our, just-turned 8-year-old. After his parents, if there’s anything that can comfort him, give him company and make him smile, it is LEGO.
Recently, a friend who is aware of Kian’s love and passion for LEGO informed me that an international toy store is holding a LEGO ‘workshop’ for kids. An excited Kian reached the venue only to realise, it was a ‘task’ which the kids had to complete and not ‘creative free play’ (as we had assumed). The fastest child to complete the task would be declared a winner and would be awarded a ‘ticket’ to participate in the finals.
Our LEGO enthusiast, bagged this ‘ticket’ and was now looking forward for the finals to be held a fortnight later.
Day of the finals:
For the finals we as parents, had chalked out no formal preparation but had only one advise for our little master - ‘Focus on the task and give in your best. It doesn’t matter if you win or lose but whats most important is that you have FUN’
On that note, we reached the venue only to realise that the event was delayed by an hour. As the evening progressed, it unfolded varied levels of mismanagement and lack of planning by the organizers. A sense of justifiable restlessness was apparent on the faces of all participants. However, kudos to the kids, they waited patiently for the organisers to get hold of the situation and the event started 90 minutes after the scheduled time!
It was a two level competition. At level 1, they would filter out 8 participants out of 20, who would then compete agaisnt each other at level 2. Master blaster, Kian was super quick and zoomed in to level 2.
A heart racing, competitive and nail biting time:
Level 2 was more stringent with 8 LEGO masters competing against each other.
Kian had a slow start but a steady pace. While the other kids were visibly faster than Kian, he was having a close eye for the details ensuring that he did not make any errors. His peers, sprang up one after the other shouting ‘DONE!’
My heart was beating fast, but Kian was focused and it seemed it didn’t matter to him what the others were upto. The creations of few kids were rejected by the organisers as there were some errors and they were asked to re-work on the same. That did buy Kian some time. However, I could sense the pressure to finish his task was working on him now. He finished his creation and ran to the organiser only to realise there was an error which needed to be fixed!
By now, the other kids had already identified their errors and were fixing it. A perplexed Kian looked blankly at his creation and the instruction sheet wondering where had he gone wrong! The pressure was immense and as a parent, even I couldn’t handle it. I could imagine what our 8-year-old must be going through.
The names of 3 winners were announced and our son wasn’t one of them.
A shattered and heart broken Kian ran up to me and as I hugged him, he broke down, crying unconsolably.
After taste of defeat:
Honestly, we as parents weren’t prepared for this! However, I believe that parental instincts usually work superbly in a crisis situation. We tried our best to pacify and compose Kian. Sharing some excerpts from the conversation we had with him.
- Kian, we know how terrible you are feeling right now. It is completely natural to feel this way. (we acknowledged his feelings)
- We are happy that you reached so far! (tried to boost his morale)
- Losing a competition doesn’t end it all. Now, can we go home and play with our LEGO blocks? (guiding him - way forward)
- For us, you are a winner anyways, and you deserve a LEGO minifigure! (Initially, Kian refused to accept the same saying he didn’t deserve it. We told him it was a small gesture from his parents for participating and reaching right upto the finals. One may term it as a sheer coincidence, however we as parents think otherwise - The minifigure packet actually had a GOLDEN trophy which really meant a lot to us and Kian who finally flashed a big smile!)
Would like to conclude by sharing Bill Bradley’s quote, ‘the taste of defeat has a richness of experience all its own!’
Also Read other articles by the author - Should we protect our children from distressing news?, My Child Is Neither Shy Nor An Introvert – He is a Highly Sensitive Child!, How To strengthen Your Parent-Child Bond, How To Make Your Child Learn. Everyday!, Develop Critical Thinking In Your Kid, Grooving with the i- Generation!, Handy Helpers For Parents, Understanding the Mindset of an UNSHARING Child.
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