DD is 3.5 yrs old and an only child. Ever since she's been about 2ish, her desire to "win" at everything has shown itself to be very strong. I don't know where it came from exactly (daycare maybe?), but it's rather, er, annoying. She wants to be the first at everything: first to wake up in the morning, first to go downstairs, first to run upstairs, first to finish her meal, first to press that door opening button, first to...you get my drift. And of course, because she's 3 and so emotionally all over the place, when she doesn't "win", it causes a meltdown. I've repeated to her over and over that winning isn't always important, especially when it puts you in danger (like trying to rush down the stairs), but obviously, the message isn't getting through.
I'm trying to find constructive ways to defuse a lot of her tantrums, but on this front, I'm stumped. DD is a VERY pigheaded, willful child who does everything in her own time (hence she's not fully potty trained because she "Just doesn't wanna"), so I'm at a loss here.
I could've written your post. Dd is 5 now and although the streak is a little less it's still there. I don't have an answer. I wonder though if this will last forever or if it's a phase.
Cheerfulness enables us to remember no problem lasts forever ~ Unknown
DSS (7) is like that, except he's not an only child so he's constantly arguing with and/or pushing his little sister out of the way in order to do things first (open the door, push the elevator button, etc.) When it comes to games, he wants to win all the time, and throws a tantrum when he doesn't.
When he argues over wanting to do something first, then neither of them of them get to do it. If he throws a tantrum during/after a game, he doesn't get to play anymore. It's not really working, but they only spend a few days with us every couple months. I'm sure whatever headway we make when they're here gets undone when they go home.
Sarah, partner to J and mom to DD1 April 30th, 2002 and DD2 May 5th, 2012.
My only suggestion to you is to stop telling her that winning isn't always important. It's conflicting with her reality (winning is important to her) and so she's going to ignore everything that comes after that. 3 year olds aren't known for the ability to see anyone's perspective but their own. Furthermore, life is teaching her that she can't always win. Eventually, she'll learn through experience that it isn't that important.
What I would do is validate that she wants to win, and name her emotions. "I see you really wanted to win. You sound disappointed." "It's frustrating when you can't always be first, isn't it?" I've got a highly dramatic, highly emotional 7 year old. It can be exhausting! But what I have learned is that until her emotions are heard, no message will get through.
At another time, then perhaps you can say "I know you want to be first down the stairs. I'm afraid that you're going to fall and really get hurt. How could you do this so that you can still be safe?"
Winning was never a huge thing for ds. He's an only child and I avoided competitive situations though he still picked up the idea of competition from pbs shows. But I'd sometimes have fun with him and announce "I'm going to be second!" or "I'm going to be last!" and then move really slowly. Sometimes we would decide who was going to win something in advance. I think having a game's outcome predetermined took away the issue somewhat when he was 4ish and found chance games so fickle and skill games difficult and unfair to try to win against an adult.
Despite my letting him win as much as he wanted, he always did fine with other kids. I think it allowed him to be gracious when they won. The only times he hasn't been gracious about not winning has been when the other kids were poor winners who crowed about winning and rubbed it in. Anyway, maybe being playful about losing would help dd slow down on the stairs and during meals, at least.
I like it because it gives us a way to talk about 'winning' and 'losing' together without it being one of us won and the other lost
For dangerous things like rushing down the stairs etc maybe you could set up different playful situations like 'ok we are a train, you can be the engine and I'll be the caboose but you can't leave me behind we have to stay connected' or encourage going down the stairs on her butt. Or as tiny slow turtles or something.
for her age she is spot on. that is v. typical behaviour.
i would not associate it what we adults know winning as.
for her its a matter of control.
be patient and this will get less and less. they are still v. egotistical.
dd 9 still hasnt lost her wanna win streak. but she has better learnt how to behave in a crowd even though she has lost.
this is the time that you as a parent, needs a lot of support. and relief. so make sure that your needs are met too. you only do your dd a service when you do that because she then has to consider that mommy has to do some stuff herself.