Older sibling winning every time

(10 Posts)
tartanpooch Tue 04-Aug-15 10:25:55

Although this concerns my stepson and my son, I've put it in parenting as I don't think it's really a step-family issue, more of a sibling issue.

DS is 8, DSS is nearly 11. DSS is super sporty and very good at anything active. DS is really not very good at sport but he tries his best to join in. He often gets upset that he doesn't really get a look in in a game of footie, whether that's with DSS or kids his own age.

DS asked to buy a board game today, I said yes. He and I had set it up and just begun to play when DSS, who is usually reluctant to join in with anything like this came in. If we were a "regular" family I might have said that just DS and I were having a game, but because I want to involve DSS in activities, I asked if he wanted to join in. He did so and then proceeded to win every turn (it was a free for all, so you could win on every go not just your own.) Twice I mimed at him, clearly and behind DS's back, to just let DS win a couple of goes, and DSS nodded like he understood but continued to jump in with the answer. I've asked him before to let DS have a go at winning and he says yes but obviously forgets or just can't help himself. Poor DS was a bit crushed but dealt with it pretty well. I felt so sorry for him, he never gets to win and even at his own game he didn't so much as get a sniff at succeeding during the first go with it.

Now I'm not suggesting that DSS should have let DS win the whole game, but surely he could have let DS win a few more goes? He just didn't seem to get that he was caning DS and it wasn't very nice for someone younger than himself (to be fair, DSS wasn't gloating, he's not like that, just leaping in first every go).

DH and I have been having a lot of chats about DSS and how he is finding it hard to fit in with our family routine, help out a bit etc, and I don't really want to load on another "problem" with DSS, as this is really about being an over-competitive big brother. I grew up with one of those and remember how hard it was to be little and so keen to play a game and then be crushed every time. Clearly my DM didn't find a way through!

TheHouseOnBellSt Tue 04-Aug-15 11:35:19

I have an 11 year old DD and a 7 year old DD and the older one is JUST the same as your DSS. 11 is still very young you know...young enough to not want to let smaller kids win....young enough to not be magnanimous about these things.

I think you're possibly reading far too much into the situation as you're more worried about their relationship due to the step sibling aspect.

I can assure you that even if they weren't step sibs, this would happen anyway and you just have to laugh it off and engineer games with only you and only the younger boy so he does get his chance.

Your younger son needs to learn about competition in a natural way....and that includes losing to older kids.

FATEdestiny Tue 04-Aug-15 12:00:31

I have this with my two sons. I think it is pretty normal behaviour.

I find it very difficult to get the balance right, and don't always succeed. These are some things I consider when dealing with my two boys:

- Competitiveness is healthy, the world is a competitive place. I don't aim to squash the desire to win and not loose.

- Graciousness in losing is also an important skill. I show my boys how nice it feels when others are gracious to them when they lose. I always point this out, so that when they are the winner they can be reminded about being gracious and humble in winning.

- Resilience, getting up and trying again, is a vital life skill

- I expect my eldest to sometimes let the youngest win. It wouldn't be gracious to always win. Equally it wouldn't be helpful for the youngest never to learn to loose.

- I often form teams (me and youngest verses oldest) to balance the skills.

- I handicap the eldest in some way (like challenge him to score goals from further back than youngest, or shoot a baseball left-handed).

- I encourage games that involve working together - two player minecraft has proved great for this. They work together in building something.

I say all of this and I still have lots of issues with rivalry. So I have by no means found the definitive answer to solving it. But the above helps a bit.

OP - In your specific example with the game I would not have been discrete about talking to the oldest. Your youngest isn't stupid, he knows the oldest will win every time unless the oldest lets him win. So I wouldn't pretend otherwise.

I would be quite clear and open in telling off the oldest - you are making this game no fun. Either play fair and let everyone have a turn in winning, or do not play anymore. If possible in the game, I would team up with the youngest to beat the eldest fair-and-square. If that isn't possible in the game then eldest would be told to make it fair or not play at all.

tartanpooch Tue 04-Aug-15 12:19:03

thanks both, really helpful replies and made me feel much better. Birth order stuff is so HARD!

It's such a balancing act - not wanting to baby DS into being allowed to win vs seeing him always be crushed by the older ones; then seeing that if DSS wins at everything he will be unable to cope when he does lose. In fact DSS hates to lose, at anything, ever. He's been the baby in his family and allowed to win over the years as his big sister is much older (and kinder!) ...

And of course at this age they are incapable of seeing that they have had this allowance so should let someone else have that leeway too now.

twinkletoedelephant Tue 04-Aug-15 12:22:26

I was that one

I am a twin I was better at everything we both did - so we didn't do the same things

Can he join a club that his step brother dosnt go to?

cuntycowfacemonkey Tue 04-Aug-15 12:25:54

Fairly standard behaviour I agree, have a similar age gap and the eldest LOVES to get one over the youngest. I would make sure you find opportunities to play with your ds alone so he has chance to win. I would also take the time to play alone with your dss so he gets an opportunity to experience losing but also winning against someone old enough to not be so bothered about it!

YeOldeTrout Wed 05-Aug-15 10:10:31

Mine are 11 & 7, constant battle to remind the older one that it's nice to let younger one win, reminders to the younger one that winning isn't actually that important ( yeah right mom ). We have made a little progress.

Agree that finding something they have to work on together can be transformative.

DeeWe Wed 05-Aug-15 17:46:24

I have three dc with an age gap of 7 years in total.
There are certain games that they can play well together because there is an element of chance which evens it up.
Monopoly for example, my youngest often beats my oldest for two reasons, one being she's too cautious and secondly she seems to constantly jump from income tax to chance (pay a fine) to jail grin. Also Monopoly you play an open hand so I can advise ds if they're taking advantage of his desperation to get his favourite colour.

Cards also have the chance in-and you can play things like beggar my neighbour which is entirely chance.

I don't think it's easy to do. I tend to do it on an ad hoc basis-if the younger is losing badly then they might have a couple of rounds where I give them a second chance.

But playing as an older sibling where the odds are stacked against you is no fun. I as the middle was always given equal to my older dsis, whereas my dbro had things stacked for him, despite I was almost equally in age in the middle. Things like he'd be given an extra go each time. I gave up trivial persuits which dm bought as a family game because dsis is very good at general knowledge, so could play equal to the adults, so I was expected to. However dm would pick the easy questions out for dbro and then basically give him as many chances as he needed to get the answers.
Result was he was hopeless at losing, and I got to the point I wouldn't play games with the family because I saw no point in playing to lose all the time.

I don't think the game you chose to play was ideal really. I know you were going to play with ds and then dss joined in, but maybe it would have been better to suggest you and ds had one game first, and then did something that would be more even, or you and ds making a team, or ds and dss a team.
If it's jumping in with the answer even some adults will struggle not to show off with their knowledge. grin

olivesnutsandcheese Wed 05-Aug-15 21:45:57

DSS (11) does this all the time too, except DS is almost 3. What I've noticed is that DSS still loves to win at everything and is particularly scathing about DS' milestones. Recently he learned to count and DSS scoffs and says big deal then proceeds to count really fast etc. I've found using a bit of sarcasm tends to help, like 'oh well done DSS you are so clever to beat a 2year old, your friends must think you are the best' etc etc
In our house (DSS lives here full time) it has nothing to do with step/half brother thing and everything to do with what 11 yr old boys are like.
It's really a quite unpleasant age. All about showing off and power struggles. Fortunately DS is still young enough to cry and call for mummy when he's had enough so shows up DSS fairly well.
Separate activities and games where they are on the same team seem to help. It's also a part of growing up sadly.

BYOSnowman Wed 05-Aug-15 21:51:42

games of chance are your friend here - dd (5) manages to beat ds (8) and the adults in a few games.

for physical activity i just remind dd that she is younger and will be as good as ds when she is 8. she seems ok with that!

as a younger sibling i know how irritating it can be to lose due to age but i also found it annoying when i was 'allowed' to win!

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