When it comes to playing games, I don’t let my kids win. I play them as I would any other competitor, and I’ve done this since they were toddlers. Why? Because life isn’t fair. Everything doesn’t come easy. The sooner we learn this lesson in life, the easier it is to cope with the disappointments thrown at us. Where better to learn these lessons than in a loving home with parents that can teach them how to deal with the emotions accompanied by these tough life lessons?
Life lessons my children have learned from playing games:
- Be gracious losers AND winners. The loser has to shake the hand of the winner and say “good game”. The winner has to clean up. Spoiled sports don’t get to play the next time.
- Cheaters never prosper. I get it, losing is tough and we may be tempted to do anything we can to get ahead. However, my kids have learned the hard way that nobody wants to play with a cheater.
- Set goals to better yourself. I want my kids to value the hard work that goes into obtaining something worthwhile. My 9-year-old son didn’t like that my husband always beat him in chess. So what did he do? When we were at the library he checked out a book on chess and learned some basic strategies. Guess what? He can now go head to head with my husband and win.
- Working cooperatively gets you further. Some games can’t be played as an individual and you need to work as a team to get ahead. When teams fight they fall apart and don’t win.
- Earn it. I don’t want my kids waiting around for the next handout or the person who will make it easy for them. So when a new video game (or any toy/thing for that matter) comes out that they “must have” I make them dig into their own pockets to purchase it themselves. Sometimes they realize they really don’t need it.
- Pool your resources. This goes along with the two lessons directly above. When working as a team you need to use each other as a resource for knowledge and talent. When wanting to make a new purchase, sometimes pooling your financial resources together with a sibling makes more sense.
- Practice makes perfect. You might not understand the objective of a new board game at first or how to whiz through the levels of a video game. By taking the time to learn the rules and play again, you can become a better player.
- Learn from one another. You can’t know everything but someone else might know something you don’t. Can’t get to the next level on Super Mario Brothers? I bet one of your siblings has it figured out. Ask them for help and more importantly, let them teach you.
- Everyone is a winner when you are having fun. Playing for the sole purpose of winning makes a competitive atmosphere and sometimes takes the fun out of playing. When you realize that you are playing a game to have fun and/or enjoy the company of those around you everyone wins.
I’ll admit, I never saw all this coming. My main goal in not letting my kids always win was to teach them to lose gracefully and to manage the disappointment of not always being a winner. The other lessons that have come out of it have been unexpected bonuses.
This is an original post for Jersey Moms Blog.