Author Archives: PositiveKids

Win Or Lose, It’s Ok To Keep Score

084Everyone gets a trophy. Everyone gets a participation ribbon. There are no losers, everyone is a winner! We must be careful to protect our kids from any disappointment, right? WRONG!! Enough already with this protective approach to competition. I’m not saying we need 4-year-olds to compete hard core. But the reality in life is that you win some, you lose some. Do the best you can. If you lose, but you can say, “I did everything I could possibly do and tried my best,” then you can walk away with your head held high.  Feeling positive!

The first time I experienced this protectionist “nobody loses” approach was when my son was 6. He was playing soccer, and his team was pretty darn good. They basically won every game…if we were keeping score. You see, his coach, and the coaches in his league, didn’t keep score. Obviously, all the parents were sharp enough to know what the score was. And as they all told their kids the score doesn’t matter, they knew darn well whether their kid had won or lost!

On this particular day, my son’s team was dominant. Most of the game was being played on one side of the field, and we had put the ball in the other teams net quite a few times. The other team had barely mustered a shot, and certainly had not scored. And they were not having any fun.  At half time, we gathered our team (I was the Assistant Coach) and told them they were playing great.

Then, one of the boys asked, “Coach, what’s the score?”

The coach replied, “it doesn’t matter, you guys are playing great!”

The boy persisted, “But Coach, what’s the score??”

The coach again tried to deflect the young boy’s competitive spirit. “We’re not keeping score.”

And then it happened. I just couldn’t contain my self. I spoke before I thought:

“But if we WERE keeping score, it would be 8 to nothing.” There. I said it.

The coach looked at me in disbelief, just saying, “Dude!”

As if I had just revealed some huge secret. As if they thought it was a close game. I mean really. It was pretty clear that our team had put the ball in the other team’s net a lot. And the other team had not put the ball in our net at all. So we can’t tell them it’s 8-0? I then suggested we mix the teams up evenly and play a fun, more competitive second half. We did, and the kids had a LOT of fun! In fact, our kids went out of their way to pass to the “other” kids that were now on their team, and when one of those “other” kids scored a goal, the whole place went crazy! The parents, and all the players on both teams, were so excited you’d think we told them they were all going to Disney World! It was a great lesson in sportsmanship.

So let’s stop this nonsense. Stop hiding from reality and protecting kids from experiencing a little disappointment. They can handle it! Kids are smart. You can tell them the score. You can tell them who wins and who loses. You might as well. They already know!

Song Pairing:  “Positive Thinking” (click sample to the right)

Dining Out With Toddlers…WITHOUT an iPad!!

Dining Out - June 2014When our twins were 2, we went out to dinner at our favorite local Italian restaurant.  It was a nice place, and fairly quiet, but kid-friendly with a nice kids menu.  Throughout dinner, our kids (including our oldest, who was 9 at the time) were well-behaved.  If they started to bang on the table, or bang their silverware, we quietly reminded them that this was a restaurant and they needed to behave properly.

At one point, the older couple at the table next to us commented as to how well-behaved all 3 kids were.  “We have two grandchildren, and they would never sit that nicely at a restaurant,” said the grandmother.  “Well, not without their iPads!” laughed the grandfather.  They went on to tell us that when their son and daughter-in-law go out to dinner, each of their two kids gets an iPad at the table!!

That seems to have become the norm in our society.  Parents no longer teach their kids about restaurant etiquette or the basics of public behavior.  That takes work.  That takes effort.  That takes patience.  It’s much easier to put an iPad or smartphone in front of them and let them put their head down in the screen.  And once you start that, well, it’s pretty tough to go back!

From day 1, with our oldest, our rule was simple.  No toys and no games in a restaurant.  When we had the twins, the rule did not change!  A child has to learn how to behave in a restaurant setting.  They have to learn the sequence of events:  we may have to wait a few minutes for a table, then sit and decide what to eat, then order and wait for our food, and likely wait after eating while Mommy and Daddy finish eating and relaxing.  How is a child supposed to learn any of this if his/her head is in the latest game app?  Sure, some restaurants have crayons with place mats to color on.  And that’s fine.  The kids are still aware of their surroundings, and we parents can even engage and color with them.  That’s far different from the isolated world of an iPad or smartphone.  Kids will transition more smoothly to nicer restaurants without crayons if they haven’t been conditioned to bury their nose in a video game.

It’s not easy.  It takes tremendous patience.  It takes consistency.  And it takes a commitment.  Sometimes, we even have to threaten with a consequence.  You know, “do you want to go out and wait in the car?”  But remember, you must be ready to carry out the threat or it’s not effective!  We have, in fact, taken a child out to the car and sat there.  Carry out such a threat just once and it will work for a lifetime!  But more on that in a future blog…

Until then, give it a shot.  Take the kids out to dinner.  Leave the electronics at home.  Talk.  Teach.  Eat. Be Patient.  And let them see that dining out can be fun!

Song Pairing:  “It’s Fun To Be Good” (click sample to the right)

Positively Looking Out For Each Other

189As a parent, you always envision your kids being close and looking out for each other. When we had our boy/girl twins, we imagined their big brother Ian (7 years older) keeping an eye on them. If anyone picked on Ryan, Ian would protect his little brother. If Sophia had trouble with kids at school, Ian would step in and help his little sister. And some day, when boys come calling for Sophia, they’d have to get past both Ryan and Ian before they even get to me! But there was one scenario that didn’t jump out at me. And that scenario, as it turns out, was the first to take place.

The twins (age 3) came home from what seemed like a normal pre-school day. But they had a story to tell. According to Ryan, “Faith* was being mean to me.” My wife asked for more details and learned that there was some kind of argument between a couple of kids at school, and somehow Ryan got pulled into it. At that point, Faith was mean to Ryan (it is not clear if she was just verbally mean or did something physical. Toddlers tend to miss a few details!). And that’s when it happened.

Sophia stepped in. “What did you do, Sophia?” asked my wife.

“I yelled at her.”

“Oh! What did you say?” my wife pressed further.

“I said, ‘Stop being mean to my brother,’” replied Sophia, very matter of fact.

So that was it. Sophia, our little girl, came to her twin brother’s defense. The same little girl who won’t hesitate to yell at Ryan, complain that Ryan isn’t sharing, snatch a toy away from him, or point out that she is being a good girl (while Ryan is misbehaving), was actually looking out for him. Almost as if to say, “You can’t be mean to my brother! Only I can be mean to my brother!” We couldn’t help but smile. We asked Ryan what he would do if someone was being mean to Sophia. He said, “I would yell at them.”

Ok, so perhaps we need to refine their strategy for conflict resolution. But the basics are there. They love each other, and they already look out for each other. And they didn’t even need their big brother! I’d say it was a positive kids moment!

*name changed to focus on the positive

Song Pairing:  “These Hands” (click on sample to the right)