I think like most parents I’ve struggled with various behaviours or stages with both my children and I know for sure that I have many more struggles to come…. argh teenagers! However I have come across one challenge recently that I’m not at all sure how to deal with or overcome and that is how to teach your child to be a good loser.
Miss Four has only recently started playing games in competition with other players where one person wins and the other…. well loses. It’s not something I’ve purposely shielded her from, more that she’s really only know reaching an age where she understands the concepts and rules of such games. So far we have two that are played on a semi regular basis. One is Hungry Hungry Hippos and the other is a shopping list memory-type game.
Now because she usually plays with Miss Two or with an accommodating adult Miss Four has gotten used to always winning. So on the odd occasion when Miss Two manages a win or if the adult playing with her doesn’t naturally let her win and she actually loses there is a mega-meltdown tantrum to follow, complete with throwing of said game. I’ve tried talking to her about why it’s important to be a ‘good loser’, and that the fun is in playing the game not in the winning but has made little difference. Even when I said, rather harshly, that no one wants to play with people to aren’t good losers (obviously explaining that term first), she continues in her ways. Eventually I started putting her in time out, something I rarely do, when she behaves in this manner and now we just don’t play the games at all.
I’m not the type of mother who goes in for this everyone wins all the time theory or who thinks awards for doing what you should be doing anyway actually teaches kids anything worthwhile. I don’t believe everyone should have a turn of being student of the week or some such accolade. I think it should be merit based and awards should be rare and precious not everyday or even every week. And I want my children to learn that sometimes you lose and that’s okay, you play and have fun anyway.
So do you think I’m expecting too much of a four and a half year old, is this just typical age appropriate behaviour that I have to ride out. Or should I persevere with this lesson? And if so what tactic would you use?
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