Home > fatherhood > Competition with my three year old.

Competition with my three year old.

It’s been a while since I’ve written in this space, for several reasons, but I felt compelled to get back at it after having a new experience with my son.  To update, RJ is three now, and for his third birthday party (for which we had over 20 kids from the ages of 0-4 at our house), in addition to the usual assortment of trucks and other things people typically give little boys, he also got two games which are meant to be played competitively.  In the past, whenever we have played, it’s been cooperatively, without the idea of a winner and a loser.  He has a basic understanding of the concept of winning and losing through following sports, but this was the first time we have actually competed against one another.

My wife and I feel it’s important to teach him that in life, sometimes things will go your way and sometimes not so much.  Sometimes people win and sometimes people lose, and he will have to know how to handle both situations.  He got the hang of first game we played, Uno Moo (basically Uno but with colored animal figures instead of colored numbered cards) rather quickly, especially the concept of the Wilds, and he was able to win several of the times we played.  The other game he was given, “The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game,”, is really fun to play.  The basic premise is that there are five different colored acorns you need to collect to win.  The game has the added theme that you can sneak (steal) an acorn away from an opponent if your spin lands on the “sneaky squirrel” spot.  Of course, this became his favorite aspect of the game, and the first order of business was making sure he would spin the spinner fairly rather than just putting the arrow on the sneaky squirrel spot with his hand.  A few turns in, when I landed on this spot and was able to steal an acorn from him, he put his head down and sulked.  I stopped the game, sat him in my lap, and talked to him about this being part of the game, that I still loved him even though I stole his acorn, and that if he got the sneaky squirrel he could steal one from me.  I also made it a point to role model how to react whenever he stole one from me.  Later in the game when I stole one again, he took it better.

As for actually winning, in both the Uno Moo game and the Squirrel game, whenever I won, he tried to keep the game going by taking extra turns so that he could “win” also.  I purposely stopped him to explain that the game was over and he couldn’t win too, but we could start over and he could try again.  That’s setting the table for the next lesson, which is about trying again and not giving up.

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Categories: fatherhood
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