We Don’t Let Our Kids Win

and They are Better for it

Bananagrams was a favorite during the shut down in 2020

We have always been big believers in making our kids earn their victories. No, I’m not talking about beating a 2 year old in Go Fish and then stomping on their hearts in victory. I’m talking about teaching them the value in learning to lose with grace and being humble in a victory. Yes, there have been times when the winner celebrated excessively, but for the most part the competition remains friendly.

Not allowing our children to win has had so many benefits, but here are a few of the main benefits I have noticed.

The Wins Mean so Much More

During the 2020 shut down, we played a lot of games in our house. Banagrams seemed to be the game of choice that stayed on our table. My daughter, then 11, would get so frustrated playing me at first. I would go out pretty quickly and make her peel more tiles to add to her growing pile. Next thing she would know, I was out and had won the round. So, many days she would sit at the table playing by herself. I would be cooking in the kitchen or working on my laptop as she practiced, and I would casually throw out advice about how I would play the letters she had. There was no pressure and we talked out her next moves. She realized that the game was not about making big huge words, but about using the letters that you had effectively. She also realized that sometimes you have to scrap a word and start over because it utilized letters inefficiently. She realized these things, and that changed her game play so much more that me just telling her.

Two years later & Bananagrams still has a prominent spot at our table

Before long, she and I had some pretty intense games of Banagrams and she gave me a run for my money! This success meant so much more than me ever letting her win could. She won- fair and square. She won because she worked to improve.

They Learn to Play Correctly

When we cheat so kids can win, we ultimately teach them the incorrect way to play. We teach them that the rules don’t matter or that they will always come out on top. You might not agree with this thought, but it’s a free country. This goes back to the idea that if you speak to kids with baby talk that is incorrect, they will also speak baby talk. Kids mimic what we do no matter what the circumstance. Shouldn’t we model playing correctly?

They Learn to Lose with Grace

Kids that lose at home are far better at losing in public. Imagine a child’s shock if they have NEVER lost a game at home, but always lose at a friend’s house. Will they know that it is not appropriate to stomp off crying? Will they know to acknowledge the other person and congratulate them in a win? These are the things that we should be teaching our children. Yes they will win, but they will also lose in life situations. It’s our job to prepare them for these losses and prepare them on how to handle these situations. This goes along with the compassion that I discuss in Team Sports are Demanding.

My dad telling my son, “Ya’ll sure got your butts beat.” after a very tough loss in a Championship game. My son started laughing through the sadness. Guess I get it honest.

Kids need to know how to lose. After a sporting event, I feel like I can tell when a kids always wins at home. Some kids are so angry and upset after a loss, and they do not know how to congratulate the winning team. They stomp off the field and never congratulate the other team, they throw their helmet on the ground, or they just act like complete jerks in the handshake line. There is a huge difference in disappointment and being a complete jerk. My kids have lost championship games, and I am always more interested in their behavior after those losses than the wins. Do they tell the outstanding athlete on the other team that they played awesome? Do they walk away with honor?

I just think kids should learn young how to lose. Maybe I’m wrong. Either way, there will be losses in the game of life. How do you want your kids to respond in that instance?

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Ellen Burford

Ellen Burford

Wife, mom, foster parent. I quit teaching about 3 years ago to start a ministry to support foster parents in our area.