When Your Child Doesn’t Win the Medal


“Winning isn’t everything.”

“Just do your best and have fun.”

It’s easy for us adults to spout off these cliches to our children when they compete in an event, but when push comes to shove, and it’s time to believe them after disappointing results, that’s another story. Especially for our kids. At that moment, “winning isn’t everything” feels like hogwash.

Scrolling social media, we see the smiling faces with medals around their necks or teams hoisting trophies into the air. We see the stories of kids who worked hard and climbed to the top. Their parents are proud, and they should be! Hard work pays off, and there’s nothing wrong with celebrating that.

But you know who we don’t see? The kids who worked equally hard but just fell short. The kids who faced competition as tough as nails, had a stellar performance, yet it wasn’t quite enough.

The kids who missed the medal stand or lost in the semifinal game. And gosh, there’s a lot of them.

I remember a time my daughter had a tough gymnastics meet that she’d prepared really well for. Her determination, work ethic and desire were unmatched. She found herself in an age group with fierce competition – including the reigning state champion. At the end of the meet, her scores fell just short of placing. Some as close as a .025-point margin.

It stung. For her and for me, honestly. It’s so hard to watch your child hurt. It’s painful to see their disappointment, their high hopes unrealized.

It’s easy to hop on social media and post pictures of our smiling kids with medals around their necks when the day goes their way. But when it doesn’t turn out that way, it’s not so easy. Maybe we forget they’re not alone. Maybe we’re busy helping them process what happened. Maybe we’re just not in a social media mood.

But you know what? Like I told my daughter after her disappointing finish, that fierce competition is going to make them better. Beating inferior competitors, while it may feel satisfying in the moment, won’t make you better. Iron sharpens iron. Fighting it out throughout a meet or a tournament and coming up just shy, while painful in the moment, is excellent preparation for the next time you’re sure to meet again. There’s a new fire in their belly, a (good) chip on their shoulder to inspire their training that wouldn’t be possible if they always won.

Who social media doesn’t show us are all the kids who didn’t win but refuse to quit. Who will get up today, put on their gear and get back in the gym or back on the field. Who will continue to do what they love. The kids who will be better next time because of the medal or trophy they didn’t get last time.

When your child doesn’t win the medal or the trophy, give them a huge high five and praise their grit. Give them a ride back to practice with encouragement to keep working towards next time. Remember that it never gets easier to watch dreams unrealized (at least for now), but in the long run, these experiences really will pay dividends.

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Megan Jones
Megan has lived many places, but currently lives in Parker, CO. Megan and her husband, Cannon, met at Baylor University (sic ‘em Bears!) and have been married for 17 years. They were given the opportunity to transfer to the Denver area two years ago and couldn’t resist! Megan loves nature, especially mountains, and the gorgeous Colorado weather that allows her so many chances to get out hiking or just playing with her 3 kids. She has a 12-year-old about-to-be-junior-high daughter, a gymnastics-loving 9-year-old daughter and a 6-year-old son who keeps everyone on their toes! Nothing compares to his zest for life! Megan decided to be a stay-at-home mom when her first daughter was born, so she knows that making it this far on her journey is only thanks to a village, whether in-person or long-distance, and has a passion for connecting with other moms and encouraging them on their motherhood journeys as well.


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