Kris at Every Tips and Thoughts wrote a post about games and
letting her kids win feeling bad about winning. I disagree. This post is an expansion of my comment there.
When we play games in my house, we play for blood. I’ve never let my kids win and they know it. From the first time the kids attempt Memory, they know they’ve got to earn a win against Mom and Dad. They know if they lose, they must do so gracefully. If they pout or cry, they lose game privileges for a while. I demand good sportsmanship, win or lose.
To be clear, my kids are 3, 4, and 11 and they are all held to the same standards of sportsmanship. Win or lose, they will do so gracefully. There will be no temper tantrums when they are Sorry’d and no pouting when the Queen is captured.
It took my son almost 3 years to beat me at chess. When it finally happened, he was almost as proud as I was and still talks about it 5 years later.
It’s not much fun playing games with his friends. They were coddled and expect to win everything. I have to take away game privileges just like I do for my 3 year old. They hate that because we have the coolest board games. Nobody else has games that involve zombies or disembodied brains.
What has the result been?
My kids love playing games. This week, my oldest has been teaching his sisters how to play Life. When he visits his friends, he’s as likely to bring a board game as an electronic game. He’s got a good mind for strategy, and I can’t remember the last time he pouted when I tromped him.
My 4 year old hasn’t mastered gamesmanship yet, but she will. When I threaten to put the game away, she wipes her eyes, and keeps playing, even if her jaw is chattering. She knows what is expected and works to live up to it.
Both of the older kids are competitive. They’ve never had a win handed to them, and they have each had wins they had to work for, and they know how it feels to win and earn it.
The youngest doesn’t care if she wins, she’s just happy to play. In my experience, the competitive gameplay gene doesn’t activate until 4.
In my mind, the real world won’t hand them any wins, so I might as well start teaching them how to work for it now.
How about you? Do you let your kids win, or do you teach them that all games are bloodsports?