Should Parents Allow Their Kids to Win or Make Them Earn Each Victory? [Video]
A couple I know is having a disagreement over a parenting issue. The disagreement is over whether parents should allow their children to win when playing games with them or not. One parent believes that allowing children to win sends them the wrong message, while the other parent believes not allowing the child to win from time to time will cause their self esteem to suffer and they'll no longer want to play with the parent.
They didn't ask for my opinion, but it is an issue I'm very passionate about and so here it is.
Personally, I decided when my oldest daughter was very young that allowing her to win, while it made her happy in the short term, was not in her best long-term interests. My parents raised me the same way and I firmly believe the lessons I learned from that as a kid have made me a better man today.
My dad and I use to play basketball when I was a kid and he beat me time and time again. After each of these one sided games, he wouldn't berate me or call me a loser but would challenge me to practice and get better. This went on for, well I really don't know how long, but it felt like an eternity. Sometimes, I wouldn't want to play. There was a time I was just sick to death of losing and decided I really didn't like basketball anymore. He wouldn't let me quit though. He would make me get out there and play. Quitting was not an option. Neither was sitting around and pouting that I had lost.
After awhile I became determined that, some how some way, I was going to beat him. It also finally clicked in my head that, in order to beat him, I had to improve my basketball skills and that required practice. And practice I did.
I will never forget the day all my hard work paid off. The day I finally beat him. It was one of the greatest moments of my young life. I held my own victory parade in the front yard. The mighty Casey had fallen and I was the one who had brought him down through my own hard work and determination. Nobody had handed me that victory, I had earned it. That is a lesson my dad taught me that I will never forget. And that one victory boosted my self esteem WAY more than 50 fake wins would have had my dad decided he needed to let me win from time to time to keep my interest or so I wouldn't get my feelings hurt.
When my daughter was young, our contest was checkers. There was a time when we would play several games per day and, like my dad, I never once allowed her to win. Over time she learned that the way to beat me was not to sulk or pout and demand that I let her win, It was to practice. To learn to study her moves more carefully and be more patient. Finally, she earned herself a victory (and many more after that!!) and through her own hard work and perseverance, boosted her own self esteem.
Did she get discouraged at times? Of course she did. There was one time she was so mad that she had lost, AGAIN, she threw a tantrum and knocked all of the checkers onto the floor. My response was to make her pick the checkers up, put them back on the board and sit down and play another game (which she lost). Quitting was not an option and neither was sitting and sulking because you lost. If you want to win, you have to work hard.
My baby girl is almost 19 now, and has learned that hard work and perseverance do pay off in the long run. She still struggles with it at times, as all people do. Sometimes she just wants to sit and feel sorry for herself and throw herself a little pity party. But she's out on her own and is taking care of herself and is pretty much completely independent of daddy. There are things I wish she had done differently and ,no doubt, makes plenty of mistakes. But she's blazing her own trail and is her own woman and I am so proud of her.
There are many young people in this country who act like the world owes them something. They act like they're entitled to a good job, an education, a big house, a nice car, health care, etc. I may not be a perfect parent and Lord knows I have made plenty of mistakes in raising my children, but I am determined to do what it takes to teach them just the opposite. The world owes you knowing. It could care less about your feelings. You are not entitled to anything. If you want to survive and thrive in this world, you'd better be prepared to suck it up and work for it.
I found the following video this morning and I can't help but ask.. I wonder if this teens parents let him win to boost his self esteem when he was a child? Here's a video of a teen freaking out because his dad grounded him from the internet.
So, do you let your kids win or make them earn their victories? Why or why not? (Please save your "you're a horrible parent and DHS should pay you a visit!" comments. You can email those to me directly.)
Check out the best board games to beat, err, play with your kids.