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Michael Carpenter
United States
West Virginia
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I do not have kids myself but I do have a niece that is getting old enough 8, almost 9) to start playing some harder games and play competitive games as her own player. I started her off with cooperative games so we could work together and win and lose together so there was no resentment but I'd like to transition her toward competitive games. Unfortunately, there are times when I can see her struggling with her emotions if something doesn't go her way or she doesn't win. She doesn't throw tantrums, but I would like to see her associate games with enjoyment rather than winning and losing.

So my question to the community is... Does anyone know of some good ways of teaching this message? Or is this just normal and should I just allow her to mature with time?

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CARL SKUTSCH
United States
New York
New York
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Agricola, Sekigahara, Concordia, Innovation, COOKIE!!! (and Guinness)
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It's totally normal. I have a kid and I've played with plenty of young kids. You'll get all sorts of advice about what to do and much of it will be contradictory. Mine, for what little it's worth, is let the kid win now and then, but make sure they also get used to losing. When I taught a little eight-year old girl to play Hive, I let her win quite a lot, just winning maybe every 4th game. Once she was hooked, I started beating her more often, but by then she was already in love with the game.
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15 Keys
United States
Living in the Delco
Pennsylvania
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Check out some threads in the Gaming with Kids forum, that comes up every now and then there.

A couple things I can add (as a parent):
-Modeling good behavior is always good.
-Some kids (and people in general) just are not good losers. You see people talk about this here every so often. It might something some kids need to work on more than other.
-Having emotions is not a bad thing. Being upset for losing is normal for everyone at some level, so don't try to imply that they shouldn't feel the way they do. Acting like a bad loser or throwing a tantrum is bad, but feeling bad is just someone's feelings, and there isn't anything right or wrong about that.
-Don't worry about her associating "fun" and "winning or losing". Some people associate fun with winning (winning is always better, right?) and that doesn't make them not enjoy playing overall.

I'd say unless there is a public meltdown over winning or losing, or the child displays sore losing or gloating winning behavior, just let the game play out and let her be herself with the way she handles it.

Also, as always, play appropriate age range games and play to win. That way she has the ability to understand a game, have real choices, and the ability to win if she plays well. And it shows her that her win is real, and not something that is given to her. So if she wins, she can be proud of it.
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A Deal with Death
United States
North Carolina
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It seems like you're on the right track.

The correct answer is not to postpone playing games where it’s impossible for her to lose or allowing her to always win. Life is filled with co-op and non co-op opportunities alike where she can and will lose.

I think the correct answer is labeling of emotions and positive reframing.


Labeling Emotions
When she loses or is beginning to lose ask her how she feels and why she thinks she feels that way. Offer alternatives explanations for her to consider and tell her it’s alright to feel that way.

Positive Reframing

Then explain to her that there’s always going to be times when everyone loses at something and discuss how the important thing is to use it as an opportunity to expand her understanding of the game (or world). She can see where she could have played differently or when things were totally outside her control (just like the real world).

Tell her she’s in good company, the most successful inventors, scientist, businessmen failed far more than the succeeded.
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Michael Carpenter
United States
West Virginia
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Thank you the help. Like I said, I don't have kids of my own. I do coach for a living so I handle this situation at times but in sports there is an necessity to win a lot of the time that I don't want to bring into the board games we play. I appreciate the help and hope more people have some input!
 
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Make sure you compliment their good moves and improvements over previous games.
 
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Pete
United States
Northbrook
Illinois
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My 7-year old has always been a good sport. We've played a ton of games. She wins some, she loses some. No fits...not even when she was little.

Her 3 year old brother loses his composure when any minor thing goes against him in a game...well before he loses. When he ultimately loses, if he hasn't fled the table, he cries like...well...a baby.

Pete (struggles with this one)
 
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PA
Canada
Rouyn-noranda
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I think everything here is good advice, just make sure the opposite is true as well (not your case only, but some people just are bad winner).

Congratulate the losing players,
Offer advices where you think their play could have been better,
offer a rematch,
etc.

PA
 
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