Not so long ago, my kids were playing at a friend's house. A-Girl was playing Nintendo (or Play Station or X-Box, who the hell can keep them straight) with her friend, a boy. A-Girl was kicking his ass at Super Mario Brothers or something, which pissed him off so much that he reached over and pushed the restart button. Because he wasn't winning. This was a five year old child who was getting ready to start kindergarten. Why did he have such a hard time losing? Because his parents (his father mostly) always let the kid win whenever they played anything.
It really bugs me to see that. It's not that I'm mean and take pleasure in beating little kids at some video game. But when you let a child win - no matter what the game is, you teach him all the wrong things. You teach him that it's not ok to lose, that he should be rewarded even if he doesn't work hard or isn't good at something, that the world revolves around him. You teach him to be a sore loser and that just sucks. It's going to be so hard for that kid to make friends because no one wants to play with a sore loser.
There are certain games that don't require skill (Candyland or Chutes and Ladders) so kids can learn to win and lose gracefully. My husband taught the girls to say "Good game" to their opponent and shake hands after every game - win or lose. And quitting in the middle of a game because you're losing is a punishable offense. It's not that my kids never get upset when they lose, but they aren't sore losers.
What do you think? Do you think it's ok to let kids win? Sometimes, never or always? I suppose that if I was playing basketball with M-Girl, I wouldn't be body checking her all over the court or anything but I wouldn't let her win. Oh, wait - I suck at basketball. And I'm out of shape. She could probably whip my ass. Well, anyway, you get the point.