When you were growing up your parents may have told you, “Winners never cheat and cheaters never win.” Children are sponges who absorb what they are taught. They even learn while playing games. Teaching children about winning, losing and cheating can also help them later in life.
You know how great it feels to win. And you want your children to experience that feeling as well. Some parents may allow their children to win at games. Does allowing a child to win rather than letting them lose do more harm than good? That’s something you’ll want to decide for yourself and in each situation.
It’s not always easy to teach your children right from wrong at an early age. You know you don’t enjoy losing so you understand why your child might cheat in order to win a game. Unfortunately, if children are allowed to ‘get away’ with cheating when they’re young, the habit of cheating may continue as they grow older. This could lead them to try to cheat at things which are much more serious than a board game.
When you sit down to play a game with your children, read or explain the rules to them. Try to impress upon your child that rules are created for a purpose and it is important to follow the rules. Everyone has to abide by the same rules and so everyone will have an equal opportunity to win if they pay attention.
Be sure to let your child know that winning isn’t necessarily always the ultimate goal in playing games or in life. Sometimes playing with someone you love is the goal rather than having to win at all costs. The quicker your child understands that they probably won’t always win, the better they’ll be able to cope with loss later in life.
Pay attention to what your child is doing throughout the game so you can correct them if they make a mistake or if they purposely try to cheat. Cheating is a form of stealing if you really think about it. The child who cheats is stealing another person’s opportunity to win. Don’t yell at them for cheating, but make the point that cheating isn’t acceptable. Then give them the opportunity to correct their “mistake.” Thank them for being honest and let them know you expect them to play by the rules.
Very young children may not understand the concept of cheating but they know how they feel if someone does something to them they don’t like. They will tell you something isn’t “fair.” You can explain that cheating in a game, or other aspect of life, isn’t fair for the person who could have won or done better.
Children also need to understand how cheating can affect friendships. If your child cheats, other children may not want to play with them any longer. They may lose trust in your child. They may even want to stop being friends with them.
Winning can help a child’s self-esteem, but it isn’t the most important thing for them to learn. If your child wins a game, use it as a teaching aid. Tell them, “Even though I lost, I had fun. Thank you for playing with me.” This will show them how to lose gracefully.
Teaching children about winning, losing and cheating isn’t always an easy task. However, it is important because you’re teaching them how to behave properly in the future. Winning isn’t everything, but being a winner is. Remember, “Winners never cheat and cheaters never win.”