Unfortunately, It’s Not Always Fun and Games…
Losing a game can be a difficult, frustrating experience for a young child. It can turn a previously enjoyable experience into a discouraging disappointment, making them not want to play again. Learning to cope with disappointment is a valuable life lesson, and developing good sportsmanship is an important part of a child’s maturation. In order to help your young ‘un lose with grace and composure, we recommend you try the following ideas.
Not all games call for a winner and a loser, some are more collaborative in nature — encouraging cooperation and teamwork skills rather than competition. These types of Cooperative Games have seen a recent surge in popularity because they teach the types of collaborative life skills that players need to succeed in the adult world. Games like Zimbbos and Tell Tale are great examples of how cooperative games encourage players to work as a team instead of as separate entities.
Change the Rules
Here at Blue Orange Games, we encourage players to make up their own variations on our rules. If you are playing with someone who doesn’t like to lose, try taking out the timed nature of the game. For example, in Speedeebee, instead of racing to answer, just wait for everyone to come up with their answer — then have players answer in order of age, with the youngest player going first (or vice versa, depending on the game/players). This removes the frustration of not being as fast as other players, and creates a more relaxed playspace, where the emphasis is on participation (not competition).
Challenge Yourself (Not Others)
Point based games like 20 Express or Sumoku are super versatile because they can be played competitively against other players, or just against yourself. If you are interested in playing without singling out a loser, just have players aim to improve their own previous scores, rather than beat the scores of others. This way, players still retain a sense of competition and engagement, but none of the frustration of losing to others.
Teach Good Sportsmanship by Example
Lose by example! The best way to help a loss-averse young-un, is to show them they can still have fun while losing. Purposefully lose a game (or two) and show your child that you are still having fun. Exaggerate and play it up! Be sure to compliment their winning performance while making fun of your own. Showing them that you are still having fun while losing will help them understand that winning isn’t the only way you can enjoy playing a game.