Yesterday Anna and I played her Littlest Pet Shop game, which involves moving around the board to collect one each of 4 colored chips, then making it home before the other person. If you land on a spot with monkey business (a picture of toy monkeys), you get to take one chip away from an opponent if you need one of the colors they have.
Each time Anna approached the monkey business, she got giggly and squirmy and told me that she WOULD take one of my pieces. Then, if she had more chips than me she would gloat.
"That's not good sportsmanship, honey," I told her.
Anna made the universal and exaggerated "Oooooooooh" face, complete with raised eyebrows. "I didn't know that, sorry."
We are still working on her not doing the end zone dance every time she wins a game, but she is learning.
I proceeded to win 3 out of 3 games much to her disappointment. I asked her if she wanted to play one more time, because she still had a chance to win one. "No way , mom," She said matter of fact, with her arms crossed, then she picked up a handful of game pieces and chucked them in my general vicinity.
"Anna, again- bad sportsmanship. Help me clean this up please."
And she did. Surprisingly, after only a few minutes of sulking she was up for the challenge of a new game. I explained that on rainy days as a child- or when our mother was behaving like a beast and nothing we did was good enough so as punishment we had to stay inside, which of course I didn't tell her- my brothers and I played a game called Kings On The Corner.
We really enjoyed playing; Anna enjoyed learning and I enjoyed watching her pick up the game without a hitch. Of course I won, but not because I didn't help her play, it just worked out that way. Despite losing AGAIN, she admitted it was a lot of fun and she wanted to play again one day with me , and maybe even her dad.
A little while later while I washing the dishes, she came in and said, "You know mom, it's OK to lose sometimes... it's not like it's going to damage your life or anything."
I'm so glad that by not letting her win all the time that I am teaching her that losing and failure are a normal part of life. Despite losing 4 games within an hour, she has learned that a little thing like that isn't going to stop her from enjoying these thing in the future. She's learned to suck it up and to pick up the pieces, literally. After a brief mourning period , of course.
Very profound, coming from a 6 year old I think. And I thought I was teaching her something. ;)