Saturday, September 10, 2005

Sore loser

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.


Sandra said...

I don't know. I think it's OK to let kids win once in a while, but it shouldn't become the norm, and they have to learn to lose, too.

Both my kids have had a real hard time with losing. My daughter did finally learn to lose gracefully at about age 7 or so. My son is 9 and he still has problems. If he starts being a sore sport we put the game away or kick him out of the game and continue without him.

Many of the kids my son plays with lately in our apartment complex are really sore sports and they are cheaters, too. He is appalled by the cheating, and I hope he can learn to reject the whole sore loser mentality. He comes home complaining about them and we talk about it. Being the "victim" of poor sportmanship might be the best way for him to see what's wrong with it.

landismom said...

When my daughter first started learning to play board games, I would let her win sometimes. If she followed the rules and kept straight everything that she was supposed to do, I would let her win (how often--maybe 1 out of 3), partly because I wanted her to see that doing so paid off. We did make her do the 'good game' thing too, partly because I was worried about her being a good winner, not just not being a sore loser.

At this point (she's nearly 6), I don't let her beat me if I can help it, unless it's a game that she's just learning, and I want to make sure that she understands how to play.

Jessica said...

Sandra - I forgot to mention how much I dislike cheating! I agree, maybe being the victim of sore losers is the best way to be cured of being one yourself.

Landismom - With some of the little kid games (Candyland or Chutes and Ladders), I'm not sure how I could let them win without letting them cheat. We played the matching game a lot and (despite my strong statements about not letting kids win) there were times when I purposely didn't make a match when I could have. Otherwise the game would've been over way too fast. Truth is, before long I had to really try to win! They both kick my butt in the memory department.