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Are We Failing Our Children by Overprotecting Them?

Deborah Cruz is a SheKnows parenting expert and blogger at The TRUTH About Motherhood, which she calls a place of "humor, support, honesty and integrity." Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Perpetually playing non-competitive sports is why our children freak out when things don’t go their way. Tantrums and blaming someone else for our own failures does not make us winners. It just makes us sore losers. We are failing our children by overprotecting them.

In light of the accusations of bullying that followed the blowout football game betweenAledo High Schooland Western Hills High, I think it’s time we parents took a hard look at the state of affairs of our parenting. Are we really doing what’s best for our children?

Zero tolerance for real bullying

I hate bullying. Any bullying should be stopped in its tracks, and the person responsible for the bullying should be punished immediately. There are too many children being pushed to the edge because of bullying. True bullying can scar a person for life. I have a 100 percent no-tolerance rule for bullying. But the parent who filed accusations is using bullying as an excuse because he is upset that his son’s team got beaten so badly. The winning team did not stop trying, and this particular father took that as bullying on behalf of the coach.

It was not bullying — it was playing a competitive sport. It also shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone involved — it’s football in Texas.

Teach kids how to be good winners — and losers

I think that we have been living in a state of “everyone wins, no one loses, and let’s all hug it out” for too long. I think it’s great that tiny children can play sports where everyone gets a ribbon or trophy for participation. It allows the child to learn the sport and enjoy it without the stress of being the best. But at a certain point, children need to play competitive sports to learn how to work hard to succeed and to learn valuable lessons about life.

Life is not fair. No one wins all the time, and sometimes you lose. Losing feels bad. It feels really bad, but our children need to learn to deal with failure and move on. We need to teach our children to be resilient and not be immobilized by the fear of losing. Maybe even as adults, losing makes us feel mad or sad, but that is why we need to guide our children to learn to work through these feelings of inadequacy and grow from them. Losing is not ideal, but it is not the end of the world.

It is our job to show our children that losing is just part of playing. Sometimes we win, and sometimes we lose. Losing just means that next time, we need to work harder and practice more. It doesn’t mean we are failures as people. It’s our responsibility to teach our children to separate their performance from who they are. We need to demonstrate how to be gracious winners and losers. We need to teach our children to be strong competitors and compassionate winners.

When our children perpetually play noncompetitive sports, they end up freaking out when things don’t go their way. Throwing tantrums and blaming someone else for our own failures does not make us winners — it just makes us sore losers. We are failing our children by overprotecting them. We are not teaching them to live in the real world.

How do you feel about “everybody wins” sports?

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