Can’t Win for Losing

My daughter’s second grade teacher has come up with a novel way to teach kids about losing gracefully.

And it’s killing me.

Each day, just minutes before dismissal, the teacher pulls a name from a hat. If the child, whose name is pulled has behaved that day, he or she is awarded a small prize, be it a bookmark, a key chain or sports trading cards.

But here’s the catch: Once you win a prize your name is placed back into the hat and you are eligible to win the next day, and the next, and the next. Basically, the same student can win every day for the rest of the year if Lady Luck is on his side.

Hence, my teetering on the abyss of purgatory.

We are now more than two months into the new school year and my kid’s name has yet to be selected from the hat.

Personally, I could care less, as I don’t exactly cherish the thought of having yet another piece of plastic/paper whatchamadoodle cluttering my home. However, my 7-year-old is devastated that she is one of only five remaining students (out of 21) who has not wrapped her itchy little fingers around a coveted end-of-the-day prize.

“Your time will come,” I say cheerfully knowingly full well my words of encouragement are falling on deaf ears.

“But Mommy, Jack’s name got called SIX times already and mine is NEVER called,” my daughter wails on a daily basis. “I’M NEVER GOING TO WIN!!!”

I was fine placating her for the first 50 or so days of school, but now I’m thinking of stuffing that hat just so I can get a break from the daily whining.

By day 55 of hearing the I’m-never-going-to-win blues, I silently cursed the teacher and her well meaning intentions, but as we enter month three of Operation Learn How to be a Good Loser I am beginning to see that the merits of the process.

At pick-up the other day I was met once again with a sulky second grader dragging her feet through the school lobby.

Coincidentally, my daughter’s teacher strolled by at the same time and I half-jokingly suggested that she consider picking names from the hat at the beginning of the school day so the disappointment would wear off by pick-up time.

That’s when she turned to my kid and guaranteed her that her name would be picked at least once… by the end of the school year.

I smiled.

My daughter did not.

The teacher went on to explain that my daughter had the same chance as the rest of the class to win a prize every day and if she removed a kid’s name after selecting it, in order to increase the odds for the remaining students, then that child would not have incentive to behave in class. What’s more, the teacher said, as she turned directly to my daughter, when you don’t win, you should be finding ways you can be happy for the person who did.

“After all, in you won every day, you’d want your classmates to be happy for you, right?”

My daughter’s hasty reply: “If I won every day I would be screaming so loud I wouldn’t even hear if those kids were happy for me.”

Sigh…you can’t win for losing.

Related Articles:

Teaching Your Toddler to Lose Gracefully

Do You Punish Your Kids For Swearing?

Do Your Kids Need a Manners Makeover?

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.