Bring Out the Winner in Your Child
Everyone is driven by a need to compete and a desire to win. And if we do win, then someone else has to lose. And so in a preemptive attempt to protect our children, we tell them that ‘winning isn’t everything’. But when did winning solely revolve around competition?
etcetera spoke to Anita Papas, Beirut-based Clinical Psychologist, to explain what winning really means, and why we should embed the mind of a winner into our children and ourselves.
Go For the Win
The word winning evokes feelings of glory and triumph, adversity and competition. To win is to win an award, a title, or a position. You’ve only won when you have something to show for it.
However, in the mind of a winner, the objective is to win over our minds and ourselves. “It is about not allowing the negative doubts and thoughts to take over” explains Anita.
“The mind of a winner is a positive and optimistic mind, one that carries a positive self-image and is never self-doubting” she reiterates.
“A strong and powerful mind is the mind of a winner” continues Anita, highlighting that the idea of winning starts from within. It is about “Winning between us and us, not us and others”. In this sense, we can essentially take control of our lives.
Our minds can swing towards positive or negative thinking, yet the mind of a winner is all about the positive prevailing over the negative even in the face of adversity.
In the Mind of Children
During the first few years of life, children can be so self-absorbed, but as they grow up and discover others around them, they start tolook for validation, losing the positivity that once encompassed them. And, of course, enter Mom and Dad whose job is to give them the confidence they need to succeed.
Anita believes that “Parents have a responsibility to discover children’s hidden talents. This becomes a stepping-stone for building their confidence later on in life.”
However, Anita warns that most parents fall into the trap of inflating their child’s ego by giving them false confidence.“It is necessary to build confidence that is based on something true instead of an ego that is based on an empty prophecy”, she instructs.
One way of keeping our child’s ego at bay and promoting a real sense of self-confidence is by teaching them to appreciate their strengths, while self-recognizing their weaknesses. She reminds us to “look at our abilities as a whole” and acknowledge that everyone is special in their own way.
Anita stresses the importance of teaching children how to maintain their positive thinking. “We should be good models in front of our children, showing them how to respond to situations, instead of being helpless”, she advocates.
Instead of lecturing them to deaf, Anita suggests that using our own examples and allowing room for their own input is a more effective approach to rearing children who are less problem-focused and more solution-oriented. “Ask them what they plan on doing next time because this will give them hope’’ she models.
The Win Is in ‘US’
Losses and failures are part of the game of life; they are inevitable. “Having the mind of a winner helps us better respond to tough situations” asserts Anita.
The mind of a winner is focused on itself and its own goals, rather than on others. Anita asserts that without persistence and optimism, success is unlikely.
She reminds us that children are positive thinkers by nature, and they tend to have the mind of a winner by instinct. When learning to walk or talk for example, they will repeat failures till they perfect them. They stumble over but get back up; they mumble but insist on talking.
Anita recounts that children are not only learners but teachers too, and parents themselves can learn a lot from kids.
A winner is someone who firmly believes in not giving up, and understands that there will always be a next time. Anita insists that “Winning is not a one-time thing. It is more like a continuum, it is a long-term process”.
Anita Papas is a clinical psychologist and author of ‘The Positive You!’, ‘The Positive Us!’, ‘Go For It!’ and ‘Breaking, not Broken’. She is the first Lebanese psychologist to publish self-help books. She graduated from Haigazian University with a B.A. in psychology and then later an M.A. in clinical psychology.