I think everyone does it at some point. Your little one is trying so hard and you don’t want them to get discouraged so you let them win at games so they feel great about themselves. How can that be a bad thing? In today’s society telling a child that they lost or that their team lost seems to be frowned upon. In soccer they don’t keep score for years because it’s just a recreation league not a competitive one so scores don’t matter. What message are we sending to our child and are we doing more harm than good when we do it? Check out 10 reasons to not LET your child win a game.
- Win at all costs: Letting your child win once in a while isn’t going to hurt anything, but make sure they don’t know you are letting them win. That will send the wrong message. You don’t want your child to think that it’s okay to change the rules just so you can win or that winning is more important than following the rules.
- Lose gracefully: A very important lesson to teach your children is how to lose gracefully. If you let your child know that it’s okay to lose as long as you tried your hardest they will learn how to lose gracefully. They will lose at things from time to time, but it’s more important to handle defeat well. Make sure that everyone congratulates the winner at the end of the game.
- Start on level ground: If you feel like you need to ‘let’ your child win at a game that means that maybe you weren’t on equal footing from the start. You know how they give golfers a handicap? You might want to spot your child a few points or set up the game so that everyone has an equal chance to win while still playing by the rules.
- Winning fairly feels great: Children are very smart and will spot that you are letting them win. If this happens then you will be robbing your child of the thrill of victory. When your child wins fair and square it will mean a lot more to them then having you let them win.
- Learning to compete: When you allow your child to play the game they will learn over time what to do and then they will start playing with strategy. Strategy can be taught at a very early age and this knowledge will flow over into other aspects of their life.
- Entitlement issues: One of the biggest things I’ve seen with this generation is this ‘sense of entitlement’ that kids seem to have these days. I wonder if it doesn’t stem back to taking away winning and losing at school, birthday parties, rec sports etc. If you let them win then they will feel like everyone should do that and that they are entitled to win no matter how much effort they put forth.
- Improving skills: Losing will motivate your child to try harder next time and encourage them to practice and improve their skills so that next time they have a better chance at winning the game on their own.
- Focus on the joy of the game: If you focus on having fun during the game then it won’t matter who wins and who loses, just how much fun you had playing the game. If you can teach your child to enjoy the ride then it will allow them not to take defeat too hard.
- Reality check: Kids will lose occasionally and that is just a fact of life. Letting your child win does not prepare them for the real world. I love to win and I’m pretty disappointed when I lose, but from an early age I had a taste of both. Even at birthday parties, someone won the game of pin the tail on the donkey and we didn’t all go home with a prize. These are the facts of life and the sooner kids learn that life is not fair the better off they will be.
- Play a variety of games: Instead of rigging the game so that your child wins, why don’t you play different kinds of games? There are games that stress playing as a team and everyone plays against the board instead of each other. Or games of chance where rolling the dice or picking a card is just random chance and everyone has the same chance of winning.