Thursday, August 7, 2014

It's Not Whether you Win or Lose ...

NPR consistently presents interesting and fascinating stories. I sometimes find myself pulling off the road when I am driving so that I can listen more intently. Such was the case for me earlier this week with a feature piece called When Kids Start Playing to Win.

A story began with banter between a mom and her five-year-old son as they were playing Monopoly. Suddenly the son screamed, "Noooooo!" as his mom started buying some properties. He felt like he was losing and was not happy about it.

This exchange particularly struck me because Fundamentally Toys was putting together a Family Fun Game Weekend for August 8 - 10, 2014 and I thought, Hmm ... what could I learn here?

The story went on to discuss how by age five kids start to categorize - such as fast/slow or big/small, for example. They develop the ability to compare and start making judgments that fast is better than slow, or that small is not good. Between the ages of seven and eight kids begin comparing themselves to other kids and making decisions about where they personally think they rank on the totem pole. A kid might think, "If I'm not at the top, I must be a loser."

Unfortunately, at this tender young age, the part of the brain that helps children deal with the emotions of losing or not being on top is the last to develop. As parents we may try and shield our children by not allowing them to compete in any way. But that's a bad thing as well. Trying and failing holds valuable lessons for children, such as learning from mistakes and moving forward with confidence.

If you have young ones dealing with comparison and competitiveness, I encourage you to listen to or read more about this NPR story: When Kids Start Playing to Win.

A good way to prepare your child for the competitiveness of life is through playing games as a family. Keep the competition friendly and fun. Behind it kids are learning new skills, experiencing the joy of winning, and coping with losing as well. Try and teach your kids not to focus on winning and that comparison really is not the point of playing games, or life, for that matter.

Let the games begin!

Debbie Scholl

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