When it comes to teaching kids sportsmanship, there really is a way to do it correctly. It’s also easy for parents to mess that lesson up.
Sometimes it’s ok to let kids win. But ultimately, it’s all about behavior.
What we model for them is key, and there’s more to it than just winning or losing, explains columnist Pam J. Hecht tells the Asheville Citizen-Times.
Will you play a game with me?
Whether it’s a board game, card game or party game, it’s a chance to bond with a child. It’s also a great way to energize a child whose mood could use a pick-me-up, after homework as a wake-me-up or to turn around an otherwise awful day.
In Hecht’s words:
“A rousing game of slapjack, a card game requiring quick and ruthless reflexes, can be quite energizing.”
“It’s hard to stay sour when you’re laughing.”
Playing games teaches life skills
After the board, dice and playing pieces are back in the box, kids take skills for life with them. Skills they’ll use on the playground and in the classroom, and beyond.
Hecht’s story points to concentration, creativity, problem solving and social skills like sharing, waiting, taking turns and losing gracefully.
“Games also teach perseverance, because just when you think it’s a losing battle, your luck can turn around or a strategic move can save the day.”
Is it OK to let kids win?
This one’s a thorny issue, but the simple answer is yes. The North Carolina author and mother of two provides some simple scenarios:
“Sometimes, when I know I can easily beat the pants off ’em, I back off a bit. For example, just because you can beat a novice chess player in two minutes or three moves, doesn’t mean you should. Also, at times, it’s nice to allow a child win at something because he/she needs the confidence boost or to break a losing streak. Or, with a group of new players, we loosen the rules a bit so they all have a fighting chance.”
Screens are king for kids of this generation it seems, but playing games together is really where life’s lessons are best learned.
Just be sure when you win you keep yourself in check if you’re competitive like Hecht.
Play to win while remaining civilized. Don’t let maturity, decorum, and grace go out the window. “Ha, ha, I beat ya,” accompanied by a happy dance would be a great example of what not to do.