Football star Cam Newton got it all wrong when he declared “show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser,” as an excuse for his rude behavior after his team’s defeat in the Super Bowl.
Teaching our kids how to deal with adversity, or be a good loser, is one of the important skills that they need to learn.
Good and bad stuff happens to us every day. It’s easy to enjoy life’s successes, but how we respond to life’s setbacks determines our happiness. Psychologists call this resiliency.
Every day I work with kids who have survived terrible situations. Some are victims of horrific sexual abuse, or live in severely dysfunctional families. Others are trying to grapple with the emotional turbulence of their parent’s divorce, or the death of a sibling.
Some of these emotional scars will resonate throughout their childhood and beyond. Other children figure out a way to put bad stuff in life’s rearview mirror and lead healthy and productive lives.
Can we teach resiliency at a young age to prepare kids to deal with life’s tough times? The experts say we can.
Here are the two attributes of resilient kids.
First, kids with good resiliency skills have at least one honest and loving adult in their lives. These caring relationships act as an antidote to the toxic effects of life’s traumas. The adult acts as a role model and a beacon of hope. Kids need to see that it is possible to survive bad times. The relationship provides the adult with an opportunity to coach kids in how to navigate stressful events.
Most importantly, these relationships promote resiliency because they affirm to a child two critically important messages. I love you. These bad times will pass.
The second attribute of resilient kids is that they think about the world differently than others. When confronted with adversity, they don’t overgeneralize and think that everything in life is bad.
I learned about this many years ago from a 12-year-old girl who had been sexually abused by her teenage babysitter. I asked this youngster if she was fearful of being around teens. She remarked that she had been around teens “my entire life” (which I thought was cute coming from a 12-year-old), and they were always nice to her. She wasn’t going to let one bad experience erase all of the other good interactions.
Teach your kids to be good losers. Focus on developing a superb relationship with them. Help them think about adversity in a positive and balanced manner.
Good losers make happy people.
Gregory Ramey, Ph.D., is a child psychologist and vice president for outpatient services at the Children’s Medical Center of Dayton. For more of his columns, visit www.childrensdayton.org/ramey and join Dr. Ramey on Facebook at www.facebook.com/drgregramey . Dr. Ramey has been a guest contributor to the Ohio Family Blog since 2007.
[Reprinted by permission from the March 6,, 2016, edition of the Dayton Daily News, “3 steps to raising good losers” Gregory Ramey, PhD]
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Guest Contributor Gregory Ramey, PhD, Child Psychologist and Dayton Daily News Columnist
Gregory Ramey, PhD, is a nationally recognized child psychologist and columnist who has worked at Dayton Children’s Hospital since 1979. In addition to his weekly column in the Dayton Daily News about effective parenting, Ramey has conducted more than 200 workshops and has recently been quoted in articles in Redbook, Parenting, Ladies Home Journal as well as columns distributed by the New York Times Wire Service.