Throwing The Game
Kids love games. They love playing games with friends, and they particularly love playing games with their parents. This can sometimes lead to challenges for Mom and Dad, though, when the kids only want to play if they win and melt down if they don’t. So should you just let them win and save yourself the headache?
Probably not. Learning how to take the good with the bad (in this case, the fun of playing and the bad of not winning) is a life-skill that really does serve children well. Parents sometimes make the assumption that letting their child win will boost his self-esteem, but the opposite is generally true – the more kids win, the more they define themselves as “winners” and it can be extremely damaging to their sense of self to lose. Teaching children to focus on the progress they’re making and the process of developing new skills will ultimately serve their self-esteem better in the long run.
So is it “wrong” to let my child win when we play against one another? No, of course not! Just don’t do it every time. Many games are competitive; competition is a part of life. It’s ok that losing is a part of life, too. It’s ok to encourage the odds a bit more in their favour, but don’t go out of your way to lose, either. Especially for kids for whom losing is a major upset, suggest games that are all games of chance (Candyland, Chutes and Ladders, Yahtzee) until they can come to accept that sometimes luck isn’t on their side, but that’s ok, they can still have fun playing. And when they’re ready, moving on to games that do require some skill provide the best opportunity for feeling good; knowing that he won all on his own beats having Mom or Dad stack the deck for him, any day.