We handicap most games. This allows for everyone to have fun, and we can include both parents, and an 8 year old and a 5 year old with very different skills and strengths. My 8 year old DD has extraordinary difficulties in emotional control, so we work hard to make games fun, accessible, but also an environment to practice losing graciously.
We review rules for appropriate behavior every time - no trash talk, gracious winning, gracious losing. On games that largely involve chance, we consistently remind ourselves through the game of the importance of luck in the game.
Originally Posted by LynnS6
I have let my kids win -- if we're playing a game of skill and I will wipe up the board with them (let's face it, I will ALWAYS beat my 6 year old at Boggle), I will often not play as hard as I could sometimes. I try to let them win some of the time. Let's face it - it sucks to lose all the time.
The other thing we've done is to give the kids a handicap. I figure if they do it for golf, why not for board games? So if we're playing Boggle, then the grown-ups can't use 3 letter words, but kids can. It evens things out a bit.
Max: Animals can take the short cuts, Max cannot.
Chess: I get no queen or rook when playing against DS. DH gets no queen, neither rook, and neither bishop.
Sorry: DS can choose to declare at the beginning of the game if pieces can get knocked back to home.
Checkers: I start with 10 pieces to DS's 12.
Chronology: DD needs to get 8 cards to everyone else's 10.
Bananagrams: DD needs to use all tiles but they don't have to be connected.
We also need to fade the handicaps -- I play my best in checkers (cuz I go bonkers if I have to hold back - it just doesn't work for me). If I win three times in a row, next game I start with one more piece down. If DS beats me 3 times in a row, then I start the next game up one. We started this system with 6 pieces vs DS's 12, and I'm up to 10. I've lost quite a bit graciously in this way, as has he. We also constantly remind ourselves that DS has gotten so good that he can beat me at an almost fair game when a few months ago he couldn't.
Good cooperative game that's actually fun for everyone with built-in handicapping: Forbidden Island. (Sorry Max fans, I find that game mind numbingly dumb)
Originally Posted by NicaG
Okay, I'm starting to feel like everyone thinks I'm raising a sociopath. Just to clarify, my ds doesn't insist on cheating, mostly he just likes to change the rules of games halfway through, but the rules change for everyone.
The emotional control required to lose a game graciously is actually a fairly high-level function and 6 years old is still young enough not all kids can do it for a charged game. Losing is hard. Just look at how people behave when their local football team loses. Review expected behavior, but also set it up so that the poor kid can win occasionally. I certainly would never want to play a game where I lose every time. Indeed, I quit a soccer team where we lost every game. I just wasn't having fun. While it was great exercise, and good for my soul and character building and all that jazz, it just wasn't fun.