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Has your child ever had to deal with a cheater? Has your child ever been forced to compete on a playing field that wasn’t level?
Why do people cheat? Why did Tom Brady, who is arguably the best quarterback in the entire league, need deflated footballs to win a game? I have no answer for that, although I wish I did. I have no answer for why anyone cheats.
However, at times our children will have to compete with cheaters and liars who surpass them because of their cheating and their lying. In fact, we all have these types to face at times, don’t we?
It is hard enough for us to deal with these people as adults. Trying to help our children cope with playing on a field that is not level can be even more trying. I faced having to do this recently.
This is what I find to be helpful in helping pick up the pieces of our children’s heart when they face a cheater
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Remind your child of their worth
Remind your child that their worth, their value, is not dependent on performance in this situation. Actually, their worth isn’t ever dependent on their performance. Tell your child that they have been fearfully and wonderfully made with their own unique talents and traits within a family, within a time period, and in the place in which they live. All of these things together make everything about them their own story. They have a place in this world that only they can hold.
Encourage your child
Encourage your child to continue to do their best in this situation as well as in every other situation. Even when they know their effort will not be rewarded as it should be. This includes when someone steals their place whether it is a spot on a team, a job position, or a ranking within a group. In everything, they are to give it their all, regardless.
Ask your child
Ask your child if achieving greatness through cheating is what they would want. Then, ask them if their sense of gratification be the same if they cheated to gain something rather than achieving it on their own merits. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t feel like I accomplished anything at all if I was rewarded for something I didn’t earn. I am guessing our children will feel the same way if they are asked to examine the situation from that angle.
Positively affirm your child in their hard work in regards to this situation and maybe overall, too. However, be truthful and don’t embellish. If your child is not the star of the team, don’t tell them they are. This completely defeats the purpose of what you are trying to teach. If they have not achieved “star status,” don’t tell them they have in an effort to make them feel better. They will know you are lying anyway.
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Remind your child of the truth of the matter
Because people cheat primarily due to their own feelings of inadequacy, remind your child that “the cheater” faces issues of their own. We cannot know the negative self-talk or the unrealistic expectations that have been placed on “the cheater.” But, it is easy to see that they obviously feel strongly tied to their achievement in this area and solved this issue the way they felt was in their best interest. Of course, it was not handled correctly, which should be pointed out.
Still, “the cheater” needs to be treated in a kind and understanding way. This is an opportunity for your child to be a person of great character. There are all kinds situations where your children will have to be the bigger person and rise above. This is one of them.
Remind your child of your love
Remind your child that you are here to support them, and remind your child that there are plenty of times when they will be treated fairly and when their efforts will be justly rewarded.
These are the lessons that we as parents can be thankful that we are here to help them with. These are opportunities to speak truth into the hearts of our children, to build their character, and to guide and equip them in ways that will carry them at times when they are adults.