Games with Kids who don’t like Losing

Playing games which end in ‘I don’t want to lose’ meltdowns is not much fun.  What does it look like to let children choose if they want to win?  Is it fun for everyone?  And do we create bad losers, and children who aren’t equipped to deal with real life?

In the video (60 seconds)

A quick introduction to asking my child ‘Do you want me to let you win?’.  Detail is in the longer video below.

In the video (6 minutes)

Competition between siblings or friends
I want to prepare my child for the real world
This makes bad losers
Other strategies to try
Games which work for everyone

Other things you may think after watching this…

“I feel bored or frustrated playing rigged games” – or “I feel bored playing any games!”

You are definitely not alone, and my suggestion here is not to play at all.  If you don’t enjoy playing rigged games or games full stop, let your child know, and find something else to do.  If your child thinks you are there under sufferance, he may pick up on the message “Dad finds me boring” rather than “Dad loves me so much he’ll play games even if he’s bored or frustrated”.  You might say something along the lines of “I would love to spend time with you, and I’m bored playing this game.  How would it be to find something else we’d could both enjoy together?”.

“Is there anything wrong with insisting my child play by the rules, or letting him win without realising what I’m doing?”

Not in my view. If the way you are currently playing is working for you, that’s great.  If it’s not working well, or you’d just like to try something new, it may help you to start by being conscious of what is going on for you when you are playing games. From there, you can decide how you want to suggest playing.  For more, watch from 4:40 in the six minute video above.

A manageable thing to try

Next time you and your child want to play a game, try asking something that you haven’t done before.  Here are some ideas apart from asking if the child would like you to let him win? (1) is it fun for you to play games together? (2) how is it when you lose at a game? (3) how is it when you win? (4) what works / doesn’t work for you in playing games together? (4) how could we enjoy playing games together more?

Cooperative games

Peaceable Kingdom: A range of games available for younger children, including the classic Hoot Owl Hoot!

Offbeat Families: Games for older kids: the main article features games for younger kids, but look at the comments for ideas

CooperativeGames.com:  US based but including free games ideas

Teambuilding Shop: Classic games and toys, twists on classic games and toys, and then products amongst them for non-competitive games playing.  A first stop for hard-wearing parachutes for team games.

And lots and lots more to google.

More on the topic

Aha! Parenting: suggested games when faced with challenging behaviour including clinginess, sibling rivalry, whining or persistent problems

PhD in Parenting: Some more ideas for how to play games with children

Positive Parenting Solutions: 3 quick strategies for board games

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