Tuesday, January 5, 2016

What to Play with a Terrible No-Good Sport

I am a competitive person. I am the daughter of a professional athlete, and I think because of that I have always been an ultra competitive person in some aspects of my life. I wanted to be the first person down the hill when we went skiing. I wanted to have the best backhand and the fastest serve at tennis camp. If you have it, I want it bigger and faster and with more gadgets (cars, cameras, phones, etc.). If I bake a cake, it is going to be the best looking (probably not tasting) cake you have seen. And when it comes to board games - let's just say I once made a grown man cry when he wouldn't make a trade with me in Monopoly (at least that is how the story goes when the sister, who is also one of my closest friends, of said man tells it after a couple drinks). 

It is not one of my best qualities, I know this, but it is not something that I rub in people's faces. It is truly for personal reasons that I want to "win." I don't see anything wrong with wanting to win when you are in any sort of competition. I want my girls to grow up wanting to win things, and doing their best to do so. I want them to be competitive like I am. It is, of course, ok if they do not win, but I want them to want to win. I do see a problem with throwing a tantrum (no matter what your age) when you do lose, or rubbing it in people's faces when you do win. Phew - that was a wordy paragraph - on to my point!

My 3 year old, Val,  is a very poor sport. This is something that we have recently discovered after playing many games of Disney Princess themed Candyland while on vacation last week. 

Sure, we have played board games with her in the past, but they are either cooperative ones, where you all work together towards a common goal, or if it is one where there is a winner, she usually gets board after five minutes and walks away. This did not happen with Candyland. 

The first few times we played, her sister won. We had the conversation about being a good sport versus a bad sport, and we all congratulated Marlo on her win and went about our business. But then the next time Val won, and the Competitive Kraken was released...

She kept asking to play the game, and now while we played she would whine after every turn if she wasn't in the lead. When it was everyone else's turn she would say to us, "Mom, don't win. I want to win. Dad, please don't win. I really want to win. You should lose." I would look at her and say, "anyone can win Val, we are still playing. Just wait an see." To which she would respond some sort of whiney response like, "but I want to win! You can't win!" 

She would be in the lead most games, and then get a card that sent her back behind everyone else...and then lose her bloody mind. We would tell her to be a good sport, no one has won yet, she hasn't lost yet, yada, yada, yada. And then someone would get a card that sent them backwards too and her mood would immediately change now that someone else was in the losing spot. And then she would ultimately lose the game...and then lose her shit. 

We would then start the "poor sport" talk again, and tell her that she can't always win, but it went in one ear and out the other. "But I wanted to win!! I wanted you to lose!!" Man, we have our hands full with this one. 

We have now sworn off playing competitive board games with Val until she can learn to be a better sport. Thankfully at home in Boston, the majority of the games we do own are made by a company called Peaceable Kingdom. The idea is that when you play their boardgames, you are all working together as a team towards one common goal, whether it be to get to Mermaid Island before the witch does or free the bugs before the spider fall. Their board games are the perfect games to play with little competitive monkeys like my Val Gal. 

Our favorite cooperative games are the following: 

1. Hoot Owl Hoot - Everyone works together to get the baby owls to the nest before the sun comes up!
2. Mermaid Island - Similar structure to Hoot Owl Hoot - you have to get the mermaids to the center of the board without the witch getting them first, but this one you spin a spinner, instead of drawing cards. The girls especially love this one as we have named the three mermaid playing pieces. 
3. Willy's Wiggle Web - Santa just brought this one for the girls and it is already a big hit. It comes with paper webs that you stretch out and the kids have to cut (with the provided kid scissors) the bugs free without letting Willy the spider fall. 

Peaceable Kingdom offers a variety of other games, as well as matching games and puzzles (we have three different versions of these and the girls love them). 

So until Miss Val really understands the age old words from that Yo Gabba Gabba song "sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but it's ok. You try again!" we will be attempting to keep our kingdom peaceful by playing games from Peaceable Kingdom!! 

(And no this is not a sponsored post, I just really love what this company is doing!) 

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