At last sun. Just a couple of hours but even that feels like a win. Certainly lifts the soul.

Dad are you trying. That’s 9 – nil to me”

Mini Air Hockey is a tricky sport. Requiring a unique combination of hand eye coordination, reflexes, ability to bend your back for more than 10 seconds and unchecked brutality.

“Just look at my fingers. That’s missing skin. Yep I’m trying. Your just too quick for me.”

Son worries that I let him win. That’s such a difficult area for parents. Do we play hard or do we let our children win. I remember reading a story about a former giant international rugby player. He was playing touch rugby in his garden with his kids. As a feel for how seriously he was taking this game ask his garden shed. Apparently in an attempt to win the ball off his young son he crashed into the wooden structure. The poor shed was basically demolished. The Dads take on that. They have to learn to compete. When I play I always play to win. Kids need to learn this.

But on the other side I was watching a video of the great Mohammed Ali. He was boxing with a small child. Ali was repeatedly knocked down and finally the kid scored a dramatic K.O. The kid walked away with the biggest smile and feeling like a champion.

For what it’s worth I was in the Ali camp. I wanted to see my kid smile and feel like a winner. Yes the occasional defeat was important to learn about life and that failure will happen. As you get older failure comes regularly so why not grant a few years of success to the young. Son has been through so much in his short life. Seen so much sadness. He’s earned the right to feel good sometimes. But what do I know – I’m still trying to learn this parenting gig.

But time moves on. With a cruel flick of life’s switch, happily letting your young ones win becomes increasingly hard. Suddenly you can’t buy a win. The cold reality sets in. Your kid is better at stuff now than you. Maybe he should go easy on his Dad. He is quicker, thinks faster, has better reactions and has higher skill levels. What happened to Dad being a computer game legend. Now Dad is a Noob. Oh the shame.

Yes there are complications. A kid with Aspergers and Dyspraxia will struggle in some areas. It’s so important I factor those things in. Confidence levels are so brittle. It sends daggers through a parents heart to hear you kid say things like ‘I’m just stupid’, I’m useless’, ‘I’m so rubbish‘, ‘ hate being different’. So yes allowances are still made. He loves Jenga but struggles with his fine motor skills. He hasn’t noticed yet that I play just using my left hand. Connect 4 is another favourite but he struggles to see diagonal patterns. Yes I will tend to ignore the obvious connections.

So what’s your take on winning or losing?

Am I getting this so wrong?

Whatever the rights and wrongs of my approach. Dads are strange sensitive souls. We still need to feel like kings sometimes. Yes to show off a bit. Those area are becoming increasingly difficult to find these days. That’s why bench pressing weights and the ability to stomach increasingly disgusting tasting jelly beans are so important. That’s all I’ve got left. Long may I rule over those two talents.

92 thoughts on “Is winning best

  1. Declan can’t handle losing – at least he can’t handle it very well YET. It is one of his main focuses in his social skills groups because he has HUGE reactions to losing. If he loses then in his mind he is a loser. He feels he is getting better at this, and I will get notes in his behavior chart as to whether a negative was in response to a game that was played in class and he lost or if he did well with losing. At home, I let him win. The other idea – we have that going on now too with Bob and Bobby. Bobby hasn’t been able to beat Bob at basketball YET, although Bob says he’s not going to be able to beat Bobby much longer (especially without cheating 🙂 )

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    1. as an fyi only: I also have a hard time with losing. I may not show it but I beat myself up, BIG time, and consider myself a total failure. Unfortunately, I also consider everything in life to be a competition. Literally everything. I can manage work failures but board games are an issue for me. I’ve learned to simply bow out of invites to play.

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  2. Both ways can be good. When one is obviously struggling with seeing things right… it’s good to give yourself a handicap… but a time comes when they need to learn they won’t always win…. you are right! It is a challenge! I think you are doing just fine!!

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  3. I’m with you. It’s important not to *always* let kids when but no harm is done by helping self esteem when you can. You adjust your fight as their skills increase. And as you said, you soon find yourself the noob anyway!! Most of all, give them love and life skills. From what I’ve read, you’re doing very VERY well!!

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  4. I think it depends on their age and the game… if there’s chance involved and they’re old enough to understand that, play straight.
    If it’s a game of skill, I would give a bit… make it even-ish…stacked in their favor😉

    Life offers plenty of ways to make us all feel useless and stoopid, kiddos with autism or other struggles are allowed a little slack!! As their confidence and skill grows, we need to keep gently challenging them so they know they *earned* those wins, in the end.

    I think you know how to balance it. If you’re making mistakes, they are the kind that every parent makes with their kids… the ‘only human’ kind😉

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  5. Been there … done that. My granddaughter Natasha, aka Miss Goose, has Tourette’s Syndrome. There was a time, some 20 years ago, when I purposely let her win at such video games as Mario and Sonic. Today, she is 25 years old, and I couldn’t beat her if I suddenly developed super powers! Used to be that I was the computer guru in this family … now, it is Miss Goose everyone goes to if they have a problem … yes, even me! I will eagerly await reading about the situation in about 10 years! 😉

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  6. It’s getting the balance right, isn’t it? Sometimes you need to let them win, sometimes they need to be beaten. If they win every time or lose every time they either get complacent / suspicious, or feel no good. The trick is deciding what day it is today!

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  7. The important thing is the parental attitude to winning or losing. I’d say you have the balance right. I have known parents who compete hard because they themselves need to win. They are not considering the child’s needs and when the child does catch up the parents are very poor losers.

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  8. I’m with Ali. With a wee blend of they also have to learn to lose, —not as in garden shed incident–cos alas in life you can’t always win. So I guess I am quite into talking things through at times and always finding something to praise. I guess it is all down to each individual situ you are in with a kid. And equally the Ali kid would know one day the truth of that day you know but would think, what a great guy to make me feel so special and give me that wonderful moment.

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  9. As far as board games go, I find the best approach is to limit myself to trying to make the game a close one. Doing this means that I don’t have to actively let the boys win — they will win some and lose some — but when they do win a game they know that they deserved the win.

    The other thing I do is talk about strategy as we are playing, just so they can have a sense of how close they or I am to winning and where on the board they need to be looking.

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  10. At least, in this case, winning means your child is happy. Because then you are too. I agree it can break the heart of a parent when your child talks negatively about himself. Most of all when he compares himself with those who don’t have to deal with the same challenges.

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  11. Sometimes kids know when you’re letting them win. My dad used to make up some wonderful rules playing darts. If you had a score left of 111 or 222 and got treble 1 or treble 2, you won the game. He would start on 501 and me on 301, then sometimes take his score off mine if I wasn’t doing too well. These days I don’t mind losing if I’ve played well, but get mad at myself if I’m playing badly!
    Playing crib was another matter, and we played as the cards were dealt, no deliberately playing badly. Great times.

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  12. I refrain from giving you advice on being a dad, for glaringly obvious reasons: I’ve never been nor ever will be a dad. lol. And I’ve only parented two impossible cats. Sorry for all the comments at once. I felt bad that I didn’t think to check my reading list when I didn’t see any posts in my notifications. It was well worth all the catching up. I enjoy all of your photos, insights and you write so well, which always makes it an enjoyable read. ☺

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      1. Lol. Yes, cats can be trouble. What you write isn’t rubbish. Not at all. I wouldn’t be reading it if it was. In my opinion it falls under the category of “the good stuff.”

        Liked by 1 person

  13. My 92 year old father’s favourite game is Othello. One day when my 7 year old grandson came for a full day visit my father decided this was the perfect game to teach him. No dice roll type of chance. No, all strategy. My dad won the first 2 games but made the comment that he had to work harder than usual. By the end of the day my grandson triumphantly announced that the score was 9 to 2.

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  14. I’m at a different place in life. My son, in his thirties, made me play chess with him this weekend. While I taught him the basic moves when he was a child, I don’t play chess. Too much for me to watch and notice, so I am not fond of the game. As I watched the growing clump of my chess pieces he had captured, I considered losing on purpose to end the misery! Maybe he will take pity on me and let me win next time. Ha.

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  15. I feel that parent problem, too! I want to push the kids, but I don’t want to push them over. It probably helps that I’m legit awful with things like video games and sports. 🙂 When they beat me, it’s for real!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Well…he’s got Blondie’s mouth, which means he has to have an expander in his mouth and braces. Thankfully the dentist said Bash isn’t quite ready yet–we’re to come back late in summer to put it in. sigh…

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