My daughter attends elementary school and is pretty athletic. Don't just ask me, ask anyone who has seen her doing flips all over the place. Anyway. The Elks Club is a local club that puts on a free throw contest each year for the local schools, and can eventually become a national competition. My daughter "won" her age group at her elementary school and got to move on to the next level. What happened next was a great learning experience for her.
Because both of my children have been around sports their entire lives, they aren't too bad when it comes to sports. Yes, as others grow and learn they will catch up with them, but now they are a little more advanced than kids their own age, and this has caused a little air of cockiness. I have said over and over that they both need to be put in their place by experiencing some sort of failure.
My daughter finally got a taste of it last week. She went to the next level of the Elks FT contest and was excited, she was nervous, but looking forward to competing. She got up to shoot her free throws, out of ten, and missed her first eight. She hit the last two and waited her turn for the final round of fifteen free throws to be shot. I could tell by her body language that she wasn't happy, but she was doing a good job of hiding it. By the time it got to her, she couldn't miss a free throw in the last round to keep going. She missed her first one and she was out.
What happened next was a great life lesson explained.
In so many words, as we drove to get something to eat (just her and I), I asked if she tried her best. She said yes through the tears, but didn't feel that way because she did so poorly. I told her that I bet she tried her best, but didn't do her best. Trying doesn't always necessarily mean doing. I explained that once you understand that, it will make you want to work harder to strive to be good.
As she continued to cry, I asked if she were embarrassed. She said "yes". I told her that was a good thing. It showed that she cared and wanted to do well and then when she didn't, it shows that she wants to be good. However, if she were embarrassed for failure, it is best not to show it immediately if possible especially if you are embarrassed because others "saw" you fail. It is hard. But she was afraid that everyone was looking at her and laughing, making fun of her. I explained that very few, if anybody, knew about her failure (the gym was full and most people were watching their own child), it was only after she started to cry walking across the gym floor that it drew negative attention towards her.
We went out to eat. Her mom and I both explained how much we love her no matter how good or bad she does in something like that. We explained that we will always love her. We explained that if she does it next year, we will practice more, but it still doesn't guarantee success.
Her response "I don't want to talk about it anymore!". Poor thing, seems to have too much of her competitive parents in her.