This title may seem like I’m about to complain about it being hard to win “the game of parenting,” but it’s really a story about teaching self-control, compassion, and grace.

Not sure if you’ve noticed, but when children are young, they don’t like to lose. How many of you have stacked the deck of Candyland in such a way as to help your children win the game (and not play it for hours)? We often teach our children how to enjoy playing games with other people by using the carrot of the (strong) possibility of winning when they play the game with us.

Then there’s the next step of parenting, training our children how to be gracious losers; good sports. It’s so important for children to learn to lose well, to not always get their own way. It’s a hard lesson to teach because we don’t want them to have to learn it. We want them to win. We want them to experience the exhilaration of victory, but that’s just not how life is most of the time. Most of the time, we don’t win, and we need to be gracious and kind, even when we don’t want to.

One of our children was in the stage of learning this lesson, so, I got out some tried and true tools to help this little one learn self-control and being a gracious loser… 

board games.

Playing board games can be an excellent training ground for being kind to others no matter how we feel and for learning to do the right thing even when others aren’t choosing to do the right thing. 

Candyland and Chutes and Ladders teach flexibility and resilience. Connect Four teaches focus and attentiveness. Monopoly and Life teach money management, priorities, and making wise choices. 

The next time you notice your child having a hard time losing a game or accepting defeat, get out your board games for a little on the ground training!

 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

What is something you learned from a board game as a child?