When our children are old enough to begin participating in games with other adults, is it OK to allow them to win? The best answer is…SOMETIMES. My husband always wants to see our son’s “DELIGHTED” face and mood when he wins at card games or board games. Yesterday, our son was given a checkers set by his grandparents. He was so excited to jump his Dad’s kings; his face would light up and he laughed such big laughs that it was a really FUN family time together. My husband let the winning go on for quite awhile, then gave me the look that said, “Should I keep letting him win?”
While I love watching our son be happy, we would be doing him a great disservice to allow him to always WIN at games. Life will not always be so gentle with him and it is our job as parents to build honesty, fairness, and character from this little guy that we love with all of our heart. It is difficult to know that he may be angry when he loses and allow him to FEEL it anyhow. Allowing our children the opportunity to deal with those emotions in a safe environment where he can discuss what makes him angry is ideal. Some parents would rather “ward the emotion off at the pass” when they expect a tantrum or anger to be the result. In doing so, we rob our children the experiences necessary to build self-control. Role-playing is a good way to “reach and teach” our children when we know that they are going to be upset by something. Last night, I told our son that I was glad winning made him so happy. I also asked, between games, what he feels like when Daddy or one of his friends win? He didn’t answer right away because he knew that it didn’t FEEL as good not to win. My husband won the last game of checkers. Our son claimed that his Dad had not played “fair,” but eventually was able to muster a “thank you” for playing.
Practice role-playing and allowing your child to lose at games sometimes. No one likes to be the “loser” all the time, but it is necessary to allow our children to “practice” those feelings at home first. Help give appropriate feedback and allow children to express disappointment or other emotions and feelings.
If your children are not challenged by the games/activities you have at home, look for games or activities that provide opportunities to help your child develop new reasoning skills. Cards and board games allow many opportunities for teaching our children how to win, but also to be gracious losers!