Friday, June 27, 2008

Always a Winner?

I'm curious to hear your thoughts on this....

We took the kids to a carnival last night. It was a lot of fun. The boy loves rides and games and apparently so does the girl. She ADORED the carousel and wanted to do everything her big brother was doing!

The boy went on a ton of rides and then to finish out the evening we let him play some carnival games. We won a fish. His name is Nemo. We're taking bets on how long he'll live.

The boy won something at every game he played. Literally. And they weren't crappy prizes. I mean they were but they were ok crappy prizes. He didn't win because he's a master of carnival games. He won because this carnival practices a policy of Kids Always Win.

Last night I really liked this policy. I thought it was an excellent idea. The games weren't anymore unreasonably priced than normal carnival games. It wasn't like they were jacking up their prices to justify having each kid win. It was just nice. A great way to boost a kid's confidence and have them win no matter what. I hated walking away from the carnival with a ton of crap we don't need. (Nemo doesn't count!) But I liked that I didn't have to deal with a screaming three year old who wanted a prize and didn't get one.

This morning, my feelings are a bit changed. I started thinking about if it really was a good idea to teach kids that they always win. Yeah, this is a totally isolated incident. We don't go to carnivals on a daily basis and when we go down the shore he definitely won't be winning at every game. But, this is applies to things outside of carnival games. This applies to life.

Last night it was great that the boy won. We pretty much got our money's worth. But what happens when we do go down the shore and he doesn't win? How do we explain it then? I see this type of mentality in teaching even. A kid may fail a subject or four and is allowed to make them up as if there never was a failure. Or they don't turn something in on time and concessions are made so that they can still turn it in with minimal consequences.

Why aren't we teaching our kids that sometimes they won't win? Sometimes they won't get what they want. Sometimes there will be negative consequences. Why are we almost overprotecting our children?

I'm guilty of it. I know I am.

I have a three year old. I cave a lot more than I should. I give in to what he wants a lot more than I should. Last night before we left for the carnival the boy was not listening at all. He was running all over the place. He was not hearing a single word we said to him. He wanted to do what he wanted to do. Then he fell. He scraped his knee. I was dealing with the stroller. My husband had to deal with him. The boy has a major fear of band aids and antiseptics and anything having to do with "medical" related things. He's had this fear since the hospital. After the fall last night he FREAKED when the husband wanted to clean him up and put on a band-aid. I walked into this in the middle. The husband was getting frustrated and the boy was screaming. Instead of allowing this to play out and letting the husband be in charge I jumped in and offered the boy a juice box. I figured it would calm him.

It did. Until the husband took out the band aid. Freak out resumed.

We got everyone settled in their car seats and we were ready to go. The boy was wearing a band aid and whimpering from the back seat. The husband and I talked.

"You can't reward him with a juice box when he freaks out like that."

"You can't freak out on him because he's afraid of band aids and having the cut cleaned."

"He needs to learn that sometimes he has to do things he doesn't want to do or he won't like."

"He needs to be comforted when he's scared like that. Not told to stop and sit down."

I saw the husband's point. He saw mine. I stepped into a situation that I really was not a part of and I did reward the screaming with a juice box and it didn't help. It just showed the boy that when he screams, regardless of why, he'll get some type of reward. The husband understood that the boy still harbors a lot of fear from the hospital and the experiences there but also thinks we need to start helping move past those experiences. He's right.

I gave in last night and tried to give the quick fix and make it all better. It did not help and it won't help the next time he gets hurt and does not want a band aid. It's easier for me to make the quick fix than to deal with the problem. Is it possible that we're doing that with a lot of other things, too?

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I'm over thinking this. Maybe they're just carnival games and nothing more.

What do you think?


Helen E.M. Wright said...

I agree with your 'this morning' outlook. Children should learn that they can't always win. They should also learn that they can fail things that they don't work for, such as a grade if they didn't do what was expected of them. Is that harsh?!?!

My husband and I try to choose our battles but we are also known to give in. We are getting better at it. Recently a neighbour whose 8 year old daughter, at that time, was grounded for two week (a little too much in my opinion) said, "I rather her cry now then me cry later". That to me, made a lot of sense!

On the up side...enjoying your blog!

LunaNik said...

Nope, children shouldn't always win, they shouldn't always get their way, they shouldn't do a lot of the things they do...


I am an imperfect parent who sometimes gives in when she shouldn't. I'm striving to find that balance, ya know.

ArtistMommy said...

Hi, I just stumbled across your blog for the first time and your story reminded me of a similar incident in our 5yr old daughter got a spilnter deep in her finger--the kind that is completely under the skin. My Husband grab the tweezers and started trying to man handle it out of her finger, which of course made her scream right in his ear, which got him fired up to the point where he was yelling at her to STOP SCREAMING which freaked her out even more because she was already nervous about removing it in the first place. I finally had to step in and take her by the hand and calm her down by talking to her about what exactly needed to be done to get this splinter out, I showed her how the yop layer of skin didn't have any feeling by dticking a saftey pin under the skin on my own finger to show her it didn't hurt-she was fasinated with that and actually got eager to try it on her own finger, so very carefully and slowly i used the pin to break the top layer of skin over the splinter open explaining everything as we went and we got it out without and hysteria or tears. I think kids are more afraid of the unknown so if you can explain and show them whats going to happen it may be the kid to quelch those fears.
-ArtistMommy :)

Immoral Matriarch said...

I think that's a great thing. Every child leaves the carnival happy. I'm sure he'll figure out, sooner rather than later, that life isn't like that carnival! LOL

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