Do You Let Them Win?

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Uncategorized

Malcolm and I play a lot of games. Right now we are playing a lot of Connect Four. If you don’t know the game, it is a lot like chess, except that it is played vertically, and instead of different kinds of pieces, all the pieces are the same. OK, maybe it’s not like chess, maybe it’s a lot like checkers, except vertically played and instead of playing on certain squares and jumping over other pieces, you just drop the checker into a column and try to get your checkers into a row. OK, maybe that’s not a good analogy either. Maybe it’s a lot like a slot machine. Maybe I need to start working on my analogies. I guess my analogies are a lot like a Rubik’s Cube, needing to be manipulated in order to be solved. Or, better yet, my analogies are a lot like a drunk, toothless clown, often entertaining, seldom understood. There we go, that’s the one.

Whatever it’s like, it’s a game that Malcolm and I play a lot. When we first got started, I made stupid plays that enabled Malcolm to win easily. I figured that no one like getting their ass handed to them all the time when playing a new game, and that the feeling of winning the game would spur his interest in playing more. It worked and he is obsessed! IMG_2626He is now getting quite good at the game, and I have stopped letting him win. Is this the right way to do it? I win most of the games, but occasionally he pulls the master play and beats me straight up or I make a mistake and he pounces on it. My question is, is it more important to foster his confidence and let him win often, or is it better that he develop winning strategies to ensure that he understands the work involved in succeeding in life? I have opted for the latter, having read about the importance of fostering a strong work ethic in children. There are times when the agony of defeat is painful to endure, but no one ever said this was going to be easy.

This comes up in a lot of what we do. We go to the park (when it’s not monsooning outside) and play football and baseball. We play Uno. We play tic-tac-dough. We play “throw rocks at the neighbor’s cat who is shitting in our yard.” All these things involve a winner and a loser, be it a player who scores a touchdown, 3 X’s in a row, or the largest collection of cat skulls on the mantle. He experiences losing in all these games, and while it doesn’t always go smoothly, I want him to taste failure. Understanding failure will make victory taste sweeter and perhaps instill the desire to work hard enough to win. That’s the theory anyways. ┬áThe good thing about parenting is that you never really know how it’s going to turn out. For all I know, I may be raising the next drunk toothless clown.

2 responses to “Do You Let Them Win?”

  1. Suzi O says:

    You are funny! The twins are already developing quite different little personalities. I know when it comes to the time of game playing if losing Maddie would likely give a crazy back arch and flip her head back and we could develop quite a few bumps on her head…Its a funny ole game..as either way I’m not sure we win.

  2. With twins, you don’t even need to worry, just let them play with each other and then deal with the aftermath!

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