In Let's Play part 1 I mentioned the early stages of game play.
If they are able to cope with the first three stages then you can move to stage four, more structured play which is slightly more competitive.
Stage four: Luck based games
The benefit of luck based games is that they do not take any type of skill. Over time each person in the family should find themselves losing giving you the prefect opportunity to mirror acceptable disappointment.
If you have ever played snakes and ladders I expect you can still remember the fear of falling down the snake and the excitement of running up those ladders.
The game which caused the most tantrums for us was one called Candyland.
It was colourful and perfect for little ones, but when you got send back to the start when you had been in sight of the finish, the feelings of disappointment were overwhelming to start with. We had to play it for a while with certain cards removed, waiting for them to be ready to cope with the ultimate let down. Make amendments to suit your child, there are no lives at stake, this is a learning opportunity, the last thing you want to do is put them off playing.
Stage five: Luck and Strategy games
These games have a mix of luck and planning. Backgammon, monopoly, cards; there are lots to choose from. If your child is still struggling to cope with losing when they have no control of the outcome, then they are going to find it hard to cope with games where they are partly responsible for the outcome.
These games help teach our children that whatever our decision or action, were there is an element of luck thrown in, you can never be 100% sure of the outcome.
Stage six: Strategy and solo games
When you are playing these games you are testing your wits and skills, there is a personal element to them. Every move is chosen by those playing, there are no dice to add an element of randomness, nothing to blame for your loss, only something to prove!
It can be easier to start with solo puzzles, challenges which can be reset and tried over and over until achieved. Once you add in another person you are raising the stakes and adding an element of conflict into the situation.
These games take time to learn and perseverance to master. For some the effort required is too high, and the constant losing too draining.
If your child struggles to play family games, flips the board in frustration, or flips their lid and lashes out.
1: Empathise with your child's feeling, rather than try and tackle their behaviour. If you have aimed at a stage which causes emotions which are too complex for them, then acknowledge this.
2: Gain buy in from the players to reset the game or try something new.
3: Be more obvious with your own disappointment when things are not going right for you. By modelling appropriate disappointment behaviour you are helping provide your child with options.
If you are a bit of a bad loser, then you may need to practice too. This is an age when your child may well become better at certain things than you are. If you cannot cope with that, then you will end up stifling your child’s growth.