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Encouraging Competition

(5 Posts)
TheBreadstick Mon 03-Oct-11 14:42:26

Hi All

I guess this is a general parenting question really, but not really interested in a 'flaming' off 'real mums' on other boards for overstepping boundaries, being a witch or a danger to children ... smile

My DSD is 5 and in Y1 at primary school. Last year, at parents evening (I didn't attend, but OH relayed the jist of it to me!) DSD's teacher suggested that although DSD is doing really well in school she struggles with trying new activities and refuses to enter into games that she may 'lose'. I'm guessing races, competitions, tig ... things like that.

It's also behaviour that I've noticed at home, and I think it stems from her mum being very over protective and treating her a little bit 'princessy'. Eg, at DSD birthday parties the games are always rigged so DSD wins! confused

Anyway, to try overcome this I've tried introducing fun things like matching pairs games, snap, pat ball, kerplunk (!) and other games that I remember playing as a child - sometimes she wins, sometimes she loses. I even tried a non-competitive game of skipping with a skip rope but she wouldn't try it because 'I can't skip'. If DSD even begins to feel like she's going to lose a game the tears start and she won't continue with it, which makes me feel really bad but surely learning to be a good loser is just as important as learning how to win?!

DSD is an only child and as I mentioned earlier, really quite pampered by both her mum and (maternal) grandparents. (To the extent of ridiculous behaviour like carrying her around if she doesn't want to walk!) OH doesn'y really see DSD's behaviour as an issue, and just ignores the tantrums when she loses but I think this is a bit of Disney Dad creeping in!

Should I continue to encourage competition, or just step back and let her be?!

WaitingForMe Mon 03-Oct-11 17:18:39

I say carry on. My six year old stepson was very much like this when he started school but it's something I refused to foster. It's been really tough but he's got much better. MIL and ExW are both passive aggressive and protective so we've been gentle in our encouragement but equally when he refused to engage we'd leave him out of the game (my younger stepson is far more confident and eager to try things). Tantrums resulted in the naughty step.

It felt cruel at times but to not do it felt like neglect on a grander scale. I recommend finding pathways that work for her though. My stepson does well with lots of adult engagement (eg. my, dp, my brother and brother's girlfriend all playing football with him) and anything that can be linked to Star Wars.

chelen Mon 03-Oct-11 17:38:06

Hi, my SS also had major probs with losing games, usually declaring 'its my turn to win' immediately after anyone else won! He threw some major wobblers when playing with other kids which did have an impact on his peer relationships.
We went thru many torturous efforts to improve things - agreeing that to pander to it would be wrong - and they did gradually have an impact. We found short games with lots of quick rounds much better than long games as we could keep the pace up and move into next game, either with him joining in or left out if having a sulk/tantrum.

We have found natural improvement which I think is partly to do with growing up (now 8), partly to do with our efforts, partly cos if they don't shape up their peers leave them out.

My SS reverts when upset with his situation - he is more insecure than the average kid which is probably to be expected - he is obsessed with getting things 'right' some times.

I think at age 5 it isn't that rare. I knew a guy who still cried when he lost when age 16...!

eslteacher Mon 03-Oct-11 18:33:02

My DSS (now 6) loves games of any type, and never had a problem losing...until recently. When we were on holiday this summer he had two MASSIVE strops involving tears (very rare from him) and recriminations when he lost at Uno. Even though he won loads of times before that. And took GREAT joy in seeing his dad or I lose. And since then there have been a few more times like that.

Like you, my instinct is to refuse to pander to's just so obviously Not Good behaviour that I can hardly bear to do the "letting him win" thing or agree to start the game again or whatever. But his dad is more inclined to do those things...which then makes me wonder if I'm a heartless bitch who needs to remember that he's just a tiny little kid who needs a bit of pandering at times.

I think with my DSS I notice that it's particularly when he's tired or something has bothered him earlier in the day that he gets upset over losing. But with your DSD as it seems more of a general thing...I don't know. I think I'd be inclined to try to play games with her, jolly her along when she doesn't win and make a point of laughing at yourself when you lose too. But if I was you, to be honest there's probably only so long I'd keep trying for if she didn't seem to be respondng before I wrote it off as more trouble than it was worth. At 5 there's a good chance it's just a phase she'll grow out of. My DSS has changed so much between the ages of 4 and 6 that I can hardly believe's been a real eye opener.

TheBreadstick Tue 04-Oct-11 10:51:31

Thanks Ladies, all very helpful replies.

I think I'll continue with the games and hope it's just a phase she grows out of. I mean, no actually 'likes' losing do they, it's just a case of learning that it's part of life sometimes!

Thanks again

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