And the Underdog, Kris Allen takes the win!
I have always loved rooting for the underdog, albeit I may enjoy the popular choice better. This years American Idol finale was no execption. While I enjoyed watching the outlandish and lavish performances by crowd favorite Adam Lambert, I secretly crossed my fingers for an upset.
And an upset we all got!
In the latest idol shocker, Kris Allen, the quiet and understated crooner, won the coveted American Idol title leaving many Lambert fans in shock at the results. Immediately after the win the clamor of the upset filled microblogging sites. However, let me, Teacher Ria, take this moment to savor the win of the underdog.
For me the underdog winning is a great life lesson for the kids I teach. They become role models for my kids and springboards for my discussions on building up self-esteem and confidence. These are lessons that cannot be taught through lectures or theoretical frameworks. With examples like Kris Allen, however, I am able to prove to kids that even though you may not be Mr. or Ms. Popular you can reach your dreams. In the same manner, when the underdog wins, I am able to prove to them that even though you are different, you can be someone. More than anything, seeing an underdog or dark horse, as Ryan Seacrest put it, triumph reminds me of one thing: that despite the odds, one must keep fighting.
Many times it is easy to just give up and say I’m not going to win anyway. Perhaps this thought may have crossed the mind of many underdogs, maybe even Kris Allen. As many bloggers have noted, he was truly shocked by the results as trends all over showed a great probability of Lambert winning. Simon Cowell even predicted a Lambert win! With those odds stacked against someone, it’s easy to simply cop out and say at least I got this far. But the win today proves that notion wrong!
In class I have heard that comment many times, be it in answering math questions on the board or in a sports arena. I have kids who say why bother, when I know so-and-so will win it anyway. My response always is how will you know if you don’t try?
Encouraging children to keep trying is often easier said than done, especially when they have already experienced defeat with similar situations. Here are some ideas that may help make encouraging kids to keep trying easier for moms, dads and teachers:
1. Constant affirmation is essential. Never underestimate how far an affirming word can go. “Good job!” or “that sure was a great try!” are some examples of how we can affirm our kids, even though they are not at the top. This helps make them feel that their efforts were worth it and appreciated. Rather than focusing on next time you should do this, telling them what they did well may be a better approach.
2. Remind them that what matters most is not that they bested that pack, but that they did their best getting there. I always tell my students that giving something your all is worth more than a gold medal. While a gold medal is tangible evidence of success, I tell them that there is so much more to that. Of course this does not mean I discount the value of being number one.
3. Allow them to feel bad for their losses for a time. Just because we are trying to develop their self-confidence, it doesn’t mean we should take away the bitterness of defeat. After losing a game, for example, honoring the negative feelings (i.e. “It sure feels icky to be on the losing team.”) can allow them to become more aware of their feelings. Do not underscore this feeling. However, do not let them stay there for long. After allowing them to express their disdain for what had happened, ask them questions like “what do you think you can do next time?” or “what do you think we can work on to become better?”.
4. Do not force the issue if they’re not yet ready. It is important to give a child enough room to grow. If we keep forcing things on them, or expecting them to do things the way we want them done, we only stunt their growth.
5. Be a role model! Sometimes we are unaware of how we inadvertently give our kids the wrong signals. For example, we may nonchalantly say something like “I don’t want to cook that dish because I can never cook it the way my mom does it” or “No matter what I do I can’t seem to get it right”. Remember, we are our kids’ first teachers!
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