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I don’t play like that with my friends

April 16, 2017

My 5 1/2 year old son is a cheater. He cheats mostly at board games or things we play at home. He often cheats when he starts to lose. He doesn’t like to lose. We are teaching him that it’s ok to lose.

He doesn’t cheat all the time. Sometimes, he loses graciously. Sometimes, he wins graciously. Often timescheating, he does both poorly.

Recently, he was playing a card game with his grandma. He kept changing the rules so that he’d win. When she called him on it, he got mad, as he does, and would not continue playing the game. He chose to stop instead of to continue the proper way. We tried to explain to him that it’s not fun for the other person to play this way. It’s always hard to reason with a 5 1/2 year old. It’s nearly impossible when he is pissed that he can’t win.

Would your friends want to play with you if you did it this way, we asked him in an effort to get him to understand? But he outsmarted us. “I don’t play like that with my friends.”

Different rules of play for different audiences. Sounds quite familiar. While I don’t approve of the duplicity of his thinking, he currently has no ill will about it. He just always wants to win.

Still, there are adults I know (and many I don’t) who try to go through life the same way. How do you find grace in losing? And how did you learn this skill?

Because it is a skill, I think that’s become quite clear. It’s not inherent in us as children. It’s a learned coping skill and one that many people who ought to know better could improve upon.

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