By NICK CHILES
While parents may feel inclined to protect their children from every situation where they might fail, child development experts say that allowing children to fail is crucial to their development.
“Think of the things you learn when you encounter and move beyond failure,” child psychologist Rahil Briggs, Psy.D., director of the Healthy Steps program at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in the Bronx, NY, said in a story on Parenting.com. “You learn how to tolerate frustration, how to get creative and take different approaches to tasks, and also how to ask for help—all things that are necessary for long-term success in life.”
In a variety of situations, from teaching little ones to eat by themselves, to playing competitive games with your young children, to the little ones comparing themselves to older siblings, it is helpful that the children be allowed to face the situation alone and sometimes to experience failure. So while it might be tempting to let the child win in a board game, you’re not doing him any favors in the long run. But when he does lose, be prepared for a tantrum.
“At this young age, they simply don’t quite have the coping skills. They give really strong, honest, emotional reactions,” Briggs said.
Experts say it’s okay with very young kids to give them a few extra points or a head start to even the playing field if there’s no way they can ever win on their own. But don’t get them accustomed to winning all the time by rigging the game in their favor.
This has always been a big issue in my household between me and my wife, especially when my children were younger. I admit that I’m a competitive guy. Since my earliest days competing on the playing fields and the streets of Jersey City, NJ, I have always hated to lose. And that trait brought me a lot of success in athletics. It wasn’t so endearing playing board games and the like with my family—my mom and my sisters didn’t even want to play with me after awhile because I’d get so upset if I lost.
Fast forward several decades to me playing games with my own children. The idea of losing was still poisonous to me—even if my opponent was in kindergarten! My wife was appalled by the idea of me beating down my son and then my little girls in whatever contest we’d happen to be engaged in—she thought I should let them win. I thought winning would be that much sweeter to them if they actually earned it.
I think over time, after many years of disagreement, she has moved in my direction—if I can draw any conclusions from her loud and rude taunts in her daughters’ faces when she destroys them in the Wii and Kinect dance games!
So apparently there is finally some agreement in my house on this issue. When it comes to competing with the kiddies, they must go down!
How does this issue play out in your household? Are you letting your children win to help boost their self-esteem—or are you kicking their little spoiled, entitled behinds?
Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.