Sounds mean, doesn’t it? Never letting the boy win. I get told off for it on occasion, because he does kick off royally when he loses (can’t think where he gets that competitive nature from) but I’m not doing it because I want to win at all costs, I’m doing it because what does it teach him if I don’t?
Things don’t come easy in life, unless you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth. You have to work at them. If Rian wants to win, he needs to practise and work hard. Board games and ball games might not seem important in the grand scheme of things, but I do think that just letting him win when he couldn’t, just to keep him happy, isn’t teaching him that you need to work at things. It’s taking away the genuine pleasure you get when you actually deserve something and have worked for it. I know he’s a still too little to understand this and is furious every time, but when he does win at least it’s because he’s genuinely done well.
I’m also doing it because there’s often an environment of everyone-is-a-winner amongst children and it’s the taking part that counts, which is sweet, but it doesn’t teach you anything about what the world is like. You won’t get on to the course you want unless you work hard. There’s no second place at a job interview. I also distinctly remember feeling hacked off if there wasn’t a winner when I was a kid – what’s the point? It’s fun to play, but it’s even better when you win.
It’s also gradually – painfully – teaching him how to lose. He’s a terrible sore loser, to the point of being unpleasant. But by letting him win, he’s not learning how to be gracious if he does lose. Sulking does not gain you any friends. It’s actually really hard, because I want him to be happy and to enjoy the times we spend playing things like this, but I can’t help feeling like I’m actually teaching him valuable life lessons. Every time he does lose, I explain why it’s happened and what he can do next time. I think it’s slowly sinking in!
It seems silly in the scheme of things, and more than a little bit mean upsetting him over trivial pursuits, but I think it will help him in the long run. And I do mitigate my meanness by playing a lot of pure chance games too – then I can get cross when I lose as well!