Friday, August 22, 2008

Bad Idea

I thought I was being creative. You know, like mommies are when they need to get something done. Like many moms, I have children who sometimes are slower than molasses when I really need them to get moving for one reason or another.

I decided that a good motivator for them to do things would be to see who could get something done first. As in, "Ok guys, who can get up the stairs to go brush teeth first?" "Who can climb into their seats and start getting buckled in first?" "Who can put their shoes on first?"

Yeah. Apparently both the wee ones have inherited just a teensy weensy bit of my competitive gene. They both want to win. And they don't lose well (granted, over time I've learned how to lose gracefully but that's not an easy skill for any child).

They have now turned absolutely everything into a competition. And there are constant meltdowns and whining about it. Whoops.

I've been trying to counteract this now for weeks with the admonition that "this isn't a competition." It's seems to work a little bit in that the losing wee one shouts to the other "that wasn't a race" or "that wasn't a competition." That makes it slightly better, but I don't know how much the frustration level has eased.

I'm debating my next move in this one. We talk about how it's ok to be second or third or how we can't always win everything and that's fine. Suddenly losing board games have become much more frustrating for Mister Man, too. In a way, I hope it's the age and not just me messing him up, but the timing is a bit coincidental.

Mister Man has started asking me regularly if something he's doing or working on or whatever is better than Little Miss. My standard response is that I'm not comparing the two of them, which he fortunately accepts.

He's asking this question a little less often, so maybe continuing to reiterate that not everything is a competition and that it's ok to lose, coupled with playing lots of board games where sometimes he wins and sometimes he loses will help.

I can't decide if having playdates where they play board games will help or not. If he sees that friends won't want to play with him when he has a meltdown over losing -- or even falling behind sometimes -- then maybe he'll adjust his attitude and be more ok with it. On the other hand, I don't want him to lose friends or decrease his self-esteem by pushing this issue on him too early.

Yet another situation where I won't know the right approach until it's too late, but here I go forging ahead anyway. What other choice do I have?


Angela August 22, 2008 at 7:58 PM  

Oops!! LOL! I'm certainly no parent with expertise, but I do think kids have to learn sometime that there is always a winner and a loser (despite what schools teach these days). And it's totally okay not to win all the time. No one's the best at everything. And I don't think they can learn it too early, just because I've seen the (scary) results with some of the kids in our extended family when they're taught that they are always the best at everything. So I guess my advice is I wouldn't worry too much about it. It could just be the age, or it could be that they're just figuring out that they can compete with each other. Good luck! :-))

Mary August 23, 2008 at 12:38 AM  

oh, fun!

I'm sure with early teaching and lots of practice, they'll grow up knowing how to win and lose with grace and dignity!

Mabunny August 23, 2008 at 9:40 AM  

I agree that kids should learn to lose gracefully. It is a hard lesson learned...People ( kids included) have to learn that its ok to not always first. I think nowadays in particular, all people should learn that. STuff isn's always about them.
We play board games with the kiddo and she gets made when she doesn't win, and it ecstatic with she does. She is learning, but it is hard, since shes an only kiddo.
Sounds to me like you are doing the right thing!

-Bridget August 24, 2008 at 8:32 PM  

We aren't there yet, but this day is coming. I am definitely not one of those who want my kids growing up as big wusses thinking "i'm ok, you're ok, we're all ok" kind of junk. I want them to be competitive, that's what drives us to do better and succeed in life. It is what capitalism is based on. We also need to learn to know how to lose. That even though we tried our best, there are some things that others will just be better at than ourselves and that's ok. But I don't want them to be so competitive it is damaging. I don't know where that balance is. I'm sure I'll screw it up somehow.

Michelle August 24, 2008 at 8:59 PM  

Angela - I'm with you that there's always a winnera nd a loser, but not EVERYthing in life can be a competition where sone person taunts the other. That's the balance we're trying to strike.

Mary - Ahhh, grace and dignity! That's a phrase I certaintly hope someday is used to describe the wee ones, but I'm not holding my breath anytime soon!

Mabunny - I agree that things aren't always about them. And that's part of the lesson. I remember my parents cheating so that I'd win at games to keep me happy. Not a good idea, and I'm definitely not doing that with the wee ones!

Bridget - Yep, this day will come. I hope you don't have the children who go way overboard like we did (accidentally!). I am SO with you on not wanting the wusses. I hate that Little League doesn't keep score and that everyone gets trophies. So not true to life. It's ok to lose, and everyone will sometime. If you don't learn that, life will never be fun.

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