I’m really competitive when it comes to games. I always was, and with a younger brother who was just the same, playing games was interesting in our childhood house. I don’t really remember our mum playing with us, apart from maybe Monopoly and Trivial Pursuits when we were older, and then a bit of Ludo when we were pretty young, but we’ve both got a sense of fairness instilled, which presumably she taught us.
So now that N’s (kind of) starting to play games, I have to decide how I’m going to play them with him.
His cousins were always keen on playing games over at the farm. On big family meal occasions Connect Four and similar games would get brought out for a set of challenges. The oldest nephew is good on maths and competitive as well, so there was no letting him win. But the OH would always tell me off for playing to win against them when they’re only children.
I don’t agree with letting children win. Yes, help them, teach them how to play, give them pointers, but don’t hand it to them on a plate.
At the moment, N doesn’t really understand the whole game having a winner (or staying focused for long enough for everyone to take turns). He’s also partial to a bit of
resourcefulness cheating when things get hard going.
But it’s my belief that children, especially once they’re a bit older, need to understand that some games are down to luck, some are down to skill and practice, and that they can’t always win. Plus of course, how much more satisfying must it be when as a child you beat an adult. I still remember when the eldest nephew beat the OH at Connect Four 3 times in a row due to his own skill and being able to look ahead (numbers and logical maths type problems aren’t really my OH’s forte!).
Can you tell I’ll be the parent lamenting the ‘everyone wins’ mentality that some school sports days have? At our primary school in juniors we had qualifying fastest people for the sprint and long 300 metre race, the others were more fun events which everyone could take part in. On the day for the qualified events, and prior where the field events took place, you could get points and there was a trophy. It was something to aim for, and there was something for everyone to take part in whatever their level of sportiness. I really hope that the school N ends up at, will encourage achievement and competition, and that it’s something that N will seek out.
For the time being, we’ll stick with teaching him how to play games, play fair (ahem!) and to be a good winner or loser.
How are your children with games? What is your take on playing with them?