Brady and supermodel Gisele Bündchen’s three children attended the Feb. 4 game, during which the Patriots lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in a 41-33 upset. John, 10, Benjamin, 8, and Vivian, 5, took the news hard.
“You know, Benny was crying, Vivi was crying, and they were sad for me and sad for the Patriots,” Brady, 40, said in a clip airing Monday for his Facebook show Tom vs. Time. “But I just said to them, ‘Look, you guys, this is a great lesson. We don’t always win. We try our best, and sometimes it doesn’t go the way we want.'”
Brady and Bündchen’s parenting styles have created buzz lately — in February, after the Super Bowl, USA Today quoted Bündchen as consoling her children by saying, “They haven’t won in a million years … just this time. Daddy won five times. They never won before. Their whole life, they never won a Super Bowl. You have to let someone else win sometimes.’’ She added, “Sometimes you have to let other people win … we have to share. Sharing is caring.’’
A few days later, after the supermodel received backlash for what some called patronizing remarks, she clarified her position on Twitter. “Just to be clear. No one “let” anyone win. People win because of their own merit. Tired of people twisting my words to create drama that doesn’t exist!”
Just to be clear. No one “let” anyone win. People win because of their own merit. Tired of people twisting my words to create drama that doesn’t exist!
— Gisele Bündchen (@giseleofficial) February 7, 2018
According to Deborah Gilboa, MD, a parenting and youth development expert, Brady’s advice is simple but packs a substantial punch. “Developmentally, kids up to age 14 may still believe that doing the right thing will lead to a favorable outcome, and moments of loss are an opportunity to set their expectations,” Gilboa tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
“Tom’s advice was straightforward — he didn’t blame himself or the other team — and he validated his children’s feelings,” she says.
Sports and any other competitive activities with a clear winner and loser are an opening to demonstrate how to cope with loss, a concept that Gilboa says is no easy task. “Learning how to fail gracefully is a lot harder and takes more practice than winning gracefully.”
When a child doesn’t win, it’s important for parents to practice empathy. “You could say something like, ‘I understand why you feel that way’ or ‘I hear you,’” she says, adding, “This is not a time to vent your own feelings or coach your kid.” That means resisting the urge to say, “Next time, try it this way” or “That’s why I bug you to practice.”
“Statements like this can cause the child to internalize the loss as their fault,” says Gilboa. “However, it’s OK to have that more nuanced conversation at a later date.”
And in the case of Brady, losing in front of his kids may resonate even more — because he’s a professional athlete who is celebrated and worshipped for his athletic prowess, his children may idolize him even more than usual.
An important outcome, says Gilboa, is that kids don’t walk away believing that trying wasn’t worth it. “Losing is a normal part of a competition, and it doesn’t steal the value of hard work.”
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