Teaching your kids how to be Winners

There is a definite difference between winning and being a winner. We want our children to be successful. All of us as dads want them to “win”. However, if we take the time to think about it, we would rather our kids being viewed as “winners” by others. When it comes to competitions, your kids will win and lose. When it comes to life, there will be success and failure. The question is, what makes a kid a winner? I believe there are a few things that they must possess. These qualities take encouragement, nourishing, and correction in order to serve them best. 

So what are these qualities? I believe that they are as follows:

  1. Knowing how to view and accept a loss.
  2. Having a no-quit attitude.
  3. Showing respect and compassion to others.
  4. Doing right, even if that means doing it alone.

I believe that all these qualities are founded in biblical teachings. This is why I believe that raising your children in association with the church is a win-win. It does not guarantee that they will always make the right decisions. Nor does this mean that they are better by association. So let’s look at these 4 sought after qualities a bit closer.   

  1. Knowing how to view and accept a loss. Losses are necessary to appreciate victories. They also can be a motivation to practice more, invest time, to learn, and develop character. As a dad, rarely have I ever witnessed the character of kids being praised as a result of a win. It has been as a result of a mature response to struggles and hard times.
  2. Having a no-quit attitude. Celebrate every time your kid refuses to quit, despite the odds being against them. Tell them how proud of them you are. This reinforces something that is always in their control…effort and attitude. They cannot always control the end result, but they can always reproduce this trophy of character.
  3. Showing respect and compassion to others. This is a lesson that is invaluable. Applaud their efforts to be respectful. Celebrate when they help others and put them before their own needs. Start off requiring…yes requiring them to use sir and ma’am when addressing other adults. This develops a habit… a good one. Work together to find ways to serve and encourage others. This by default makes your kids “wanted” and chosen by others.  
  4. Doing right, even if that means doing it alone. This is the most difficult quality to develop in any child. We all have a desire to be accepted, liked, and included by others. None of us want to be alone, rejected, or disliked. Because of this, children and many adults will do what is wrong to be accepted. More often than this, we will remain silent in the face of a moral dilemma. Individuals that develop the strength to stand alone or in opposition to bad speech or actions will grow much taller than their peers with regards to respect. However, this is difficult and rewards are many times delayed or even omitted. It becomes even a further establishment of character when confronted with the most mature expressions of this quality. Will you…will they do what is right when no one is looking? Will they go through the opposition or struggle if there is no reward. If this is developed, your child will be admired. They will be viewed as winners. This does not mean that they are the most popular. However, they will stand out because of their character. In the long run, this will get them much farther along in life.

Winners are not merely those that win all the time. I know that I was the proudest of my children when they demonstrated these 4 qualities. I did my best to celebrate and reinforce them as something that they always had control over. They can’t always get the win. They can, however, conduct themselves in a manner that places them apart from the crowd as special. Whether it be in a team competition or personal ambitions, they can be in control and be admired regardless of the outcome.

Failure to develop these qualities will leave you and your children unfulfilled. They will only know joy when the winds are with them. When they fail, they will associate that failure with their lack of ability and/or value. This, in turn, will develop the lifestyle controlled by outcomes and others. In other words, their joy and value is not something that they can claim as they could with the qualities discussed in this post. 

Dads, you must start this early. This is so difficult, perhaps impossible to develop later in life. Start today. Show them how to develop these qualities. Show them how they can be “winners”. Be the best dad possible.


Developing Character in Children

According to studies, the first 4-5 years of a child’s life are crucial in their development. These are the years that the personality is formed. These are the crucial years for learning. However, a character is something that continues to develop throughout life. It is a compass that guides them in their decision making. It is the part of them that will be judged by others all of their lives.

Will your child act honorably? Will your child make you proud? Will you others compliment you on their outstanding character? Children learn by observation. What is your character like? Please notice that we are not talking about personality. We are talking about the morals, ethics, and convictions by which we speak and act.

Character can be identified in day to day words and actions of people. However, it is best measured by trials. In times of difficulty, our true nature is more evident. This is usually because we are not acquiring an opportunity to perform or make ourselves look good. Kids will reveal more of their character in difficult times. Experiencing trials strengthens character much like stress of working out strengthens our bodies. 

As dads, we want to protect our kids. We want to do for them. We don’t want them to hurt. It kind of goes against our nature to let them deal with it. However, working through and conquering trials does more for their strength. Obviously, we are not going to stand by and watch our kids be injured. However, they need to see that they can handle stressful issues. They need to know that you are there, but you believe in their abilities to rise above a challenge.

It is through their dealing with pain, disappointment, and difficulty that will register the most with observers outside of your family. In the book Raising Men by Eric Davis, he discusses how SEAL Team instructors rate seals in their lowest moments and in their failures. This is when they can know that this individual can still focus on the task or not. He said, “Nobody gives a damn how you act when you are winning”. Not as extreme in most cases, difficulties hone the attention of others. They want to see how you or junior will behave. 

When we observe someone, especially a child that refuses to give up or rises above a bad situation with a sense of honor, it wow’s us. We expect kids to NOT handle frustration and pain as well as an adult. So how do you develop this trait in your children? I wish it was more complex than adopting what they observe. However, that really is the case. They learn through time what is right and wrong. They adopt the values of those they trust. If that example is not clear or reinforced with discussion and correction, they will adopt the mindset and behaviors of society and environment without your guidance. 

So it starts with us. We must square ourselves way. We must get our act together. We also must realize that we ARE setting an example, whether good or bad. We ARE responsible. Knowing this brings a certain frustration to my mind when I see weak parents pon off their kids on a teacher or coach to develop what was their responsibility. I understand that we all face challenges. I know that we all can have different circumstances. However, this is YOUR child. You signed up for this the moment you found out that you would be a parent. 

What can you do to develop your own character as an example for your children? Perhaps you had no dad around or a lousy one. Is it still on you to give your kids what they need? Yes! If you had a great dad, that’s wonderful. If you had no dad or a bad one that sucks. However, regardless of the situation, you know what you had or should have been given. Your performance as a dad does not have to be determined by what you experienced. Wait a minute. I did say that we develop character by example. So what are you going to do? Are you going to make excuses, be a victim, and not give your child the dad he or she needs?

Be determined under conviction and love for your child to give your best. This is a character and a good one for them to observe. Let your children see you rise above disappointment and adversity. You can choose to be the example they need. You either know what to do and/or what NOT to do. What if you screw up? Show a character of owning the mistake, seeking forgiveness, and never quitting. You can do this. They need you to do this. Be the best dad possible.