I’m not exactly a competitive person when it comes to games. I prefer to act as though I don’t care at all about the outcome of a game rather than get all worked up and fierce about winning a game, be it a board game or backyard game of kickball. I don’t have some deep philosophical background for this stance, I just don’t get into the thrill of the game and play it with all I’ve got. But even without a strong desire to win, I don’t like to lose.
To me, worse than the losing part is when the winner is an obnoxious jerk about winning. The fist pumps, the “WINNER!!” chants, and the oh-so-genuine pity face to the loser. I can’t help but think “Oh, you randomly selected the right combination of cards that resulted in your game piece getting to the end of the board first? You are so talented.” “Ah, you are faster and stronger and managed to get from there to there faster than I could. You must be so proud.” I suppose that makes me a sore loser. But I try not to show it. I just lose interest in playing the game anymore.
I find myself wondering how my kids are going to react when they realize that I let them lose at board games. Let me repeat that. I let them lose.
It’s true, I don’t rig the game so they win every time. If they aren’t able to remember where the matches are in Memory, they don’t find the matches. If they land on a chute in Chutes and Ladders, they ride that slide to the bottom. Of course I’m not a jerk to them about it, I don’t jump in their face and yell “Mommy WON! YOU LOST! LOOOOOOOOSER!” but we talk about who won and why (“You got more matches than we did! Yaaaaaay, great job!” or “Mommy’s piece got to the end first!”). And so far? They don’t seem to mind. They almost always want to play again and usually do better the second time. A lot of times, they do win our games. After all, most games suitable for preschoolers don’t require a high skill level and are mostly based on luck.
To be honest, I never really thought about why I was letting them lose or thought it might be a bad thing until I read some blog posts from other moms who let their kids lose. Here’s a few I came across:
- I Beat My Kids – JerseyMomsBlog
- Why I Never Let My Kid Win Games – Alyssa Giacobbe for Babble.com
- Should I Let My Kid Beat Me at Games? – Andrew Dalton at The Stir
And it totally makes sense to me. There’s value in losing and lots to learn from failure. I don’t want my kids to be brats who can’t lose. I want them to understand that everyone isn’t good at everything but that doesn’t mean we don’t try. I think we do a disservice to our children when we allow them to believe that everyone should get a trophy for showing up.
As the saying goes, “It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.” That’s something I hope my children learn from me and I hope I teach it well.
Do you let your kids lose? How do they handle losing?