Okay, how many of you have this problem? My kids HATE to lose! Mention any competitive game in which there's a winner or a loser and they run for the hills! Connect Four, Candyland, Wii... it matters not! My husband and I are devotees of Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck's finding that you praise for effort, not results. It changed our parenting when we read the New York Magazine article. Praising for skill or innate ability only leads to fear of failure, and hence, actual failure. Praising fo effort leads to increased effort, and hence, eventual success. We actually practice what she preaches! You rarely catch us saying "Yay, you got so many blue ribbons"! We try to say, "Wow, you worked really hard"!
Obviously, nature sometimes doesn't want to conform to nurture. I tried to be supportive and encourage, but not "force" them into competitive situations. Well that's changing. The last straw came for me though when my 7-year old daughter accused her 5-year old cousin of cheating when the cousin beat her in a Wii game. My daughter claimed she wasn't ready and that her cousin started "early." Well, sorry honey, but you had to click the "A" button to start the game!
So here's my radical and probably controversial new approach... no, new edict! We must play a competitive game everyday, no exceptions, no complaints and no tears! I have my 7-year old and 4.5-year old go against each other... there will be a winner and a loser. The loser must say "congratulations" to the winner, and the winner must say "thanks, good game" to the loser. Until they can come up with their own gracious statements, they can stick to the script. I appraise both for their efforts and give them stickers in they were good sports. If there's any crying, whining or tantrums... they lose play privileges.