I was at a birthday party recently where we played a few old-fashioned children’s games. I say old-fashioned because several other parties I’ve been to didn’t feature any party games at all. In fact, there’s a whole array of party themes to negotiate and it seems you can’t just have a few friends around anymore. Perhaps that’s a post for another time…
The thing that struck me was when they all sat down to play pass the parcel.
On previous occasions I’ve seen pass the parcel where everybody got a present and won a prize. On this occasion there were only about 5 prizes and 12 children. The parcel went around and the music played and each time it stopped another child tore open the wrapper and pulled out a little toy or sweet. One child in particular was getting increasingly upset the parcel hadn’t stopped on her. As it got to the very end of the parcel it was clear she hadn’t won and she threw a massive tantrum.
In response to the tantrum her mother rushed over, picked her up, and cuddled her.
Now I’m aware that I’m very new at this blogging thing and I shouldn’t be commenting on other people’s parenting practices. So I’ll try not to judge any further and will just get my point.
It’s important that kids should know the value of losing.
Resilience is one of the greatest skills we can give the next generation. It’s an ability to withstand rejection, criticism, and even abuse. The millennial generation were the first to grow up with computers and the first to create social media.
It is only now that the true extent and power of social media on children is becoming apparent.
Every day there are cases of cyber bullying and persecution with Twitter trolls hiding behind anonymous names and people thinking that anything goes online. Wherever we look there’s a barrage of abuse, uninvited opinion or judgement. Perhaps I was guilty of it myself earlier in the story about the pass the parcel girl.
When we are taught that everything is possible for us and we deserve to always get something to be equal with others, we are not teaching our children to live in the real world.
Equality is an aspiration but in the end not everybody is the same. Some people will be better at things than others. Some will run faster, will be better mathematicians, will be better musicians. The purpose is to nurture our children’s skills and interests but not to make them feel that they can do absolutely anything.
It is essential that children should be allowed to lose and know what it feels like to lose when the stakes are low.
It may not seem a trivial thing to miss out on a pass the parcel present if you are a child but actually it is a safe environment to experience what it means to lose and not come first. Later on in life it will be a valuable skill. The ability to know loss and to be able to turn that into a drive for something else is crucial to success in the world.
It is never more important than in today’s society to teach our children the value of resilience.
We can do all we possibly can to protect and shelter our children from social media, from predators or day-to-day people taking advantage of them. But if we focus on teaching our children the value of resilience it will build character to shield themselves from these people. After all we cannot protect our children for ever, they have to stand on their own two feet.
What are we going to do now to prepare them for the world are going to live in?
I haven’t read many children’s psychology books. I’m sure there’s an awful lot about this topic written about far more eloquently. If you have any comments or can point me into any interesting directions for further study, I would be grateful.