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I love my children very much, but I sometimes I have to teach them a lesson. I'm afraid if I always allow them to win them, they'll turn out to be spoiled and rotten and have a sense of entitlement when they grow up. But if I beat them too often, I'm afraid they'll have low self-esteem and not very much self-confidence. Ultimately, I feel that beating them is very important and that it teaches character.

In a similar question, this answer suggests:

If you're playing a game where you win more than 50% of the time, it's not actually a fair game. You have every advantage, because he's FOUR. Effectively, you should be handicapping yourself down to the level where you're struggling to win.

While I like the idea of handicapping myself, I'm still concerned about the win/loss ratio. If I start losing too much, they will miss out on learning about good sportsmanship and may fall victim to the Dunning-Kruger effect later in life. If I win too much, they won't want to play anymore.

What is a good ratio for winning and losing games? Or am I thinking about all of this the wrong way?

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I totally misunderstood the intent of your question from the title! You might want to revise your question because I thought you were asking how often to use physical punishment! You are in fact asking instead how often you should let your child win when playing games. Hopefully, like me, others will read further than your title, but in case they don't, you might get better results if you rephrase. – Jax Apr 1 '14 at 21:58
@Jax: Agreed, suggested an edit, as seriously, got to the quote and was just confused. – deworde Apr 1 '14 at 22:09
I was seriously wondering if it was an April Fool's post. – user7185 Apr 2 '14 at 0:24
@Imi This was an April Fool's post. Looks like it didn't do too well. I'll try harder next year. – jliv902 Apr 2 '14 at 15:50
lol, I'm amazed that this question (given the old title) didn't make it into the Hot Network Questions. Was the title edited too quickly? Anyway, this is legitimately a good question. – Doc Apr 4 '14 at 18:05

I believe this question, the related question, and all the answers I have read are missing the point a game ought to have. Where the game is not almost exclusively chance (those that are, are irrelevant to the question at hand), the point really is not if one wins or loses -- the point is to learn strategies. The type of strategy is dependent upon the nature of the game, of course.

My daughter is 14 now. I have not once in her entire life let her win a single game. I have, however, tried to educate her about the nature of performing better at each particular game. Sometimes it was in the form of questions (e.g. "Oh, why did you do that?" ... "Hmm... I can see why that seems good, but did you notice...?") while other times it was in the form of laying my cards on the table (e.g. "So, I am thinking that if I do ... then it'll be harder for anyone [importantly, not naming her] to do ... and will help me.) My personal preference is to make any educational component indirect or else the game will seem less game like and more like a classroom, defeating the "point from her perspective."

In addition to the other answers which show a balance in being a good winner and a good non-winner, this method serves to educate.

To my supreme delight, her creative mind has very often come up with quite ingenious alternative methods... some of which do very well and others demonstrate why they are not the best choice. The consequence of such thinking is that "the box" is not her confinement -- her imagination is.

Consider also, as appropriate, online games where you and your child can form a team against AI opponents. This allows you to brainstorm strategies and see how well they perform without competition between you and your child. My daughter prefers this over her-vs-I at this time in life.

Win or lose, did we learn anything useful? Is that not what the conclusion to any game of strategy should be... a question about personal growth?

Side Note: Since the game is about learning, imo, I have let her change a move after chatting with her about it... enforcing the game rules is not the point. If she understands the consequences and chooses an alternative, why not let her make a change?

Final Side Note: Yes, she has won games with me on her own merit and was elated, chatting about it for days -- she trusted that I didn't let her win, but that she earned it, and that made the "win" all that much better. Not only was she elated, but I was proud to see her do so well!

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This answer feels like it addresses the most important issues best, and is how I tend to handle things (including the 'show your cards', which is essentially a type of handicap as well as a way to teach). – Doc Apr 4 '14 at 18:16
@Doc That's a great point! I hadn't thought of it as a handicap, just helping her, but you are ofc 100% correct. – Jeremy Miller Apr 4 '14 at 18:49
This does not really address physical games like basketball or wrestling, which the OP may also have been thinking about. – Steven Gubkin Apr 16 '14 at 17:57

Very practical question. +1 of course!

I can relate myself very well to this. My 8-yr-old daughter is very possessive winning all the time and gets upset if she loses. I tackle this my way.

I'll let her win and at times, will beat her in games. But then, there's a trick. I always teach her how to play that game. And, in the beginning, when she's learning, I let her win. But then in between, I help her to beat me in the game by showing her the tricks/moves.

Once she gets a good grasp on the game, I start beating her in a game telling the reason of the wrong move she made. At first, she resists but then she understands and then on, takes care of that. I often tell her that see, you lost this game as you moved this wrong and if you want to win, you have to take care of this now on and trust me, she takes care!

I cannot give a specific number/ratio to this but then it depends on her maturity, her maturity in game and not age! If she's is getting mature, I become tough to get beaten. Two things happen - she learns more and masters the game and I will play my natural game than concentrating on making smart mistakes that she'd not understand and that would let her win!

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Games are for fun, first and foremost. Kids don't need more lessons, they need more of your love and time. Let the lessons arise naturally. If you're most concerned about the winning and losing, then perhaps you've got a lesson to learn first, before trying to teach your children one.

Also, at different ages, games can be played different ways. For a small child--say, younger than seven or eight--just have fun. Stop trying to make everything a "character" lesson, because you'll fail, and miss the point entirely. For older kids, just play, and let the outcome happen! But: if the group isn't having fun, stop playing the game.

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