The great man is he who does not lose his child's heart. (Mencius, Chinese philosopher 372-289 BC)

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Competitive Dad?

There are two ways to play games with your kids.

Dad 1 plays to encourage, and often to lose - but not in an obvious way of course. He plays "soft" in order to encourage his little darlings who will enjoy the game and be motivated to play again by winning. This strategy avoids the situation of little darling throwing an almighty wobbly when Daddy takes their "horsey" for the third game of Chess in a row! The child's self esteem grows enormously as they win against their parents and they begin to realise that we are fallible after all - a valuable life lesson.

However, this soft approach runs the risk of creating a spoilt brat who can't cope with defeat. Losing is all part of life's rich tapestry and we grow by working through the disappointment of defeat and coming out the other side.

The alternative approach is personified by Dad 2. He has a different approach altogether.

From the Fast Show (BBC) - Competitive Dad and Monopoly

Dad 2 plays to win. There are no holds barred as he seeks to defeat his opponent by any means possible - whether they be 7 or 27. Not for him the kindness shown to animals in Chess or a deliberately missed penalty flick in Subbuteo. He justifies his competitive streak by saying that the children have got to learn to play hard while secretly (or not so secretly) glorifying in identifying the murderer in Cluedo for the 5th evening in a row. 

So, which are you?

My grandfather was definitely the latter. Whatever the game, he always played to win. I never beat him at tennis - we played our last game when he was eighty something - and I remember tears stinging my eyes at the age of 12 over a game of whist as he snatched victory from me with the last hand of the game.

I, on the other hand, am more of the former - maybe as a result of that experience. I like children to feel encouraged and do not mind losing  - after all the world will not stop turning if I lose a game of "Farm Friends."

But who is right? Is it better to play to win or to encourage?

Are you Dad 1 or Dad 2?

Speak Soon
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