Yep you read that right. My children lose to ME and their daddy at board (and various other) games. Teaching kids that it is ok to lose but fun to just play together is something I have always felt strongly about. I don’t want my kids to grow up thinking they win all the time but don’t get me wrong…my kids win MOST of the time while they are young.
My family plays a lot of games. I mean a LOT of games. We play board games, tablet games, video games, pretend play games, and made up games. We started playing games with my kids when they were about 2. My son is the oldest so when he was 2 we only knew of Candyland and Hi Ho Cherry-O and those were recommended for ages 3+.
He knew his numbers to 20, his letters and basic colors by 2 1/2 so we were able to start a bit early with both of those games. However, after playing them over and over and over and over and over…etc. again I got bored, exhausted and annoyed with them. So I went looking for other games that we could play with him.
I didn’t really find any for his age but I did find games he could play by himself. This helped with the not always winning too since he would “not win” if he didn’t solve it right away. Eventually I found a few that were meant for older kids and brought them down to his level. The games grew harder as he grew older and understood more about how to play. This basically saved my sanity but it was great for him too because we got to play new games!
Now from the very beginning I would let him win most of the time but even when he was 2 I wouldn’t let him win all of the time. He was upset of course but he never cried or fussed. He would look a bit sad but then we would go over how much fun we had playing and how we both did a good job.
I started teaching him to say good job to me when I would win and no matter who won there was always a “Yay you!” “Good Job!” “You did it!” party that we had. The sadness didn’t last long but we still have talks about how no one likes to lose but its about having fun.
So far teaching him that you don’t always win has helped in all kinds of situations. When he plays with other kids for example he won’t always get the toy he wants or get to play at the area he wants too because other kids were there first. He can’t do some of the things other kids can in martial arts class but he tells them good job and tries his best.
He is only 5 so he still gets sad or frustrated when he loses or doesn’t get his way but it isn’t nearly as often as I feel like he would if we let him win all the time. Now this is only my opinion. I am not an expert on anything, I have no tests or studies or research to prove either way. I just have my opinion and observations about my own kids.
To me letting your child win every time you play a game with them sets unrealistic expectations on life. If your child thinks they will win all the time then the first time they lose at anything it will be a HUGE disappointment. To me that will do more damage than just letting them lose once in awhile. Not to mention that it could cause your child to act entitled, spoiled or throw really big tantrums when they do lose.
Notice I said it COULD lead to those things but again…not an expert. As it stands my son understands that he won’t get everything he wants and he won’t win every game. Sure he is disappointed but he tells me good job when I win and randomly when I do anything. I cleaned up a mess I made and he just goes “mommy that was a good job picking up. You did great mommy!” Tell me that isn’t adorable?
There are so many benefits to letting your children lose. You might not actually see those benefits until they are older and in the beginning you may have to deal with and work through fits but trust me when I say it is sooo worth it. My daughter is learning that she can’t win all the time faster because she has an older brother who never lets her win. He hasn’t learned to let people win yet and I’m not teaching him any time soon.
She doesn’t throw fits when she loses a game but since she is 3 we still have some when she can’t have her way. Usually that is just with me though but not always. She does already say “Good job” and “yay” for us when we win a game or succeed at almost anything. She also understands that when we go to stores she won’t get something every time.
Both my kids ask for toys or candy or something but when I say “no, not this time” they BOTH say “aww…ok” and my son adds a “Next time mommy? maybe next time we can?” I actually have only had two fits because they couldn’t get something and not in about 2 years. Part of that I like to think is because I don’t let them win all the time in games.
Letting them win MOST of the time is important in the preschool age but as my kids get older the amount of times they win gets smaller. They still get that sense of confidence, pride and excitement when they win but losing occasionally will help them as well. Keep that in mind the next time you play and hopefully you will see the benefits that I have.