Kids like to play games and it’s great when they can play them with their parents. But the age-old question is this, should Mom and Dad let the kids win?

There are several factors parents need to consider. In other words, there is no simple answer.

Some parents might view letting their child win as a way to build that child up and support him. On the other hand, it’s true that losing is a part of life and kids can learn from a loss.

Here are some guidelines for parents.

•  Consider the age and abilities of your child. By the time kids enter school they begin to understand rules and have a sense of “fairness.”

•  Children as young as 4 know when their parent is letting them win. The negative might be that the child believes Mom or Dad don’t think he is skilled enough to win.

Parents, keep in mind the fact that it isn’t a good idea to win at all costs. Instead give helpful hints along the way. For example, when the child is preparing to make a poor move in the game of checkers the parent can simply ask, “Do you really want to move there?” giving the child an opportunity to evaluate his options.

Games can teach valuable life lessons whether the child wins or loses. Kids can learn to exhibit patience, strategic thinking, encouragement, and learn to recover from losing, from “failure.”

After all there will be losses and failures in real life too.

2 Responses to "Should I let the kids win?"

  • Katrina Anderson says:

    Thank you for this article. My issue, is that my 9 year old step-daughter is so emotionally competitive, that game playing is something I avoid now. She’s in it to win it, if she’s not leading in the game, she’ll whine or even make up her own rules as if they are fact, so that another player can’t get ahead. She’s made game time almost unbearable for the whole family. Her father has mentioned that he used to let her win all the time, even cheat (which she still will do). I’m at a loss of how to control her emotions and have game time be a fun time. Any advice?

    1. John and Kendra Smiley says:

      Hi Katrina!
      Because the overly competitive member of your family is your step-daughter it is important for your husband to take the lead. He has had a longer relationship with her.
      Discuss the problem with him and don’t play another game with her unless Dad joins in too. That will give him an opportunity to help his daughter understand what is and is not appropriate behavior when playing a game – regardless of what he did previously or what he used to allow.
      Hope this helps!

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